Smith Takes A Whelen Tumble As Burgess Slashes Reid’s 240 Advantage

Outings for a number of Sunoco 240 Challenge-eligible series have resulted in a few significant changes at the competition’s sharp end in recent weeks as the 2018 campaign begins to hit its stride. However, it’s still Mini Challenge Cooper’s early pace-setter Kyle Reid who continues to lead an incredibly competitive top-10 from Steve Burgess and Ant Whorton-Eales.

Meanwhile, the ‘senior’ Sunoco Whelen Challenge is set for another crucial weekend at Snetterton following a reasonably quiet fortnight.

 Whelen: Smith tumbles to fringes of top-10

With the majority of the top-10 not in action until this weekend, all eyes were on LMP3 Cup contender Brad Smith at Brands Hatch last Saturday and Sunday. Two fastest laps plus a second and third would have ordinarily helped to consolidate his fifth place in the Whelen standings, but such was the low turnout that the Mectech Motorsport driver actually dropped five positions and almost 20 points.

BRDC British F3 ace Linus Lundqvist therefore maintains his place atop the standings ahead of this weekend’s outing in Norfolk. The Swede is just one point clear of British GT3 Pro and 2015 Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Phil Keen who, in turn, enjoys a 3.67-point advantage over title rival Yelmer Buurman. Stuart Mosely, 10.25 marks further back in fourth, resumes his Radical European Masters campaign at Spa-Francorchamps on June 9/10.

240: Burgess closes on Reid

 Brands Hatch was the place to be for Sunoco 240 Challenge categories last weekend when Radical UK Challenge, F3 Cup and GT Cup all staged rounds at the Kent venue.

Mini Challenge Cooper’s outing seven days earlier at Snetterton had seen Kyle Reid maintain his excellent start by bagging all three victories, two fastest laps and a pole position. However, such was his even better season opener at Donington that the SCK Motorsport driver actually dropped from 130 points to 124.

While still a very impressive total after five races, it did at least give nearest rival Steve Burgess a chance to capitalise. An average of 120 for the weekend thanks to three Radical UK Challenge wins and as many fastest laps allowed him to do just that, with 3.17 points now separating the pair after the same number of races.

Mini Challenge JCW duo Ant Whorton-Eales and Jordan Collard both have another chance to make further inroads this weekend at Snetterton after already benefitting from Stephen Daly’s Brands Hatch non-score, which cost the F3 Cup driver 46.67 points and 12 places.

Two podiums and fastest laps left Radical UK Challenge’s Dominic Jackson with the same total as he began the weekend – 88.33 – while British GT3 Am Lee Mowle – currently just 0.33 points behind Jackson – has two more points-scoring opportunities this weekend at Snetterton. The same goes for leading British GT4 Am contender Kelvin Fletcher who picked up two places in the overall standings at the expense of Daly and fellow F3 Cup driver Shane Kelly.

Jon Minshaw is eighth, one place and just 0.33 points ahead of F3 Cup’s new leading contender Stuart Wiltshire, who recorded a victory and second place at Brands Hatch.

 

 

 

Lundqvist In Top-Spot

A stellar weekend for Linus Lundqvist at Rockingham not only helped the Swede take the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship lead but also head the race for 2019’s Rolex 24 At Daytona prize drive.

Two of British F3’s races carry Sunoco Whelen Challenge points, and Lundqvist made both count courtesy of a victory, second place, pole position and fastest lap. That took his season’s average score to 100, 12.5 more than he achieved at the opening round earlier this month.

Lundqvist therefore leads Phil Keen by just one point after the British GT3 Pro suffered a mixed bag at Rockingham where points for pole position helped boost a relatively modest sixth place finish. However, his overall average was still cut by 13.75 points.

Mercedes-AMG factory driver Yelmer Buurman enjoyed a solid first British GT appearance at Oulton Park but announced himself as a genuine Whelen contender by winning from the back of the GT3 grid at Rockingham. The 100 points earned for doing so took his season’s average to 95.33, 7.83 more than fourth placed Stuart Moseley (Radical Masters SR8) and another 5.25 clear of Brad Smith (LMP3 Cup), neither of whom were in action last weekend.

Four of the top-10’s remaining places are now also filled by British GT drivers, Darren Turner’s GT3 podium helping him climb four positions to sixth ahead of GT4 race winner Patrik Matthiesen whose new class lap record also helped increase the Dane’s average by 33 points.

Jonny Adam and Callum Macleod are ninth and 10th, the latter moving up 10 places thanks to a GT3 rostrum, but both remain behind British F3’s Nicolai Kjaergaard despite the Dane’s average total being cut by 30 points.

British F3’s Lundqvist Stakes His Daytona Claim At Rockingham

 

British GT, Mini Challenge JCW and BRDC British Formula 3 all staged their latest rounds last weekend at Rockingham where the latter’s Linus Lundqvist surged into the Sunoco Whelen Challenge lead.

Meanwhile, both Ant Whorton-Eales and Jordan Collard consolidated their status as Sunoco 240 Challenge contenders by again dominating the JCW class’ latest outing.

 Whelen: Lundqvist leaps into top-spot

A stellar weekend for Linus Lundqvist at Rockingham not only helped the Swede take the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship lead but also head the race for 2019’s Rolex 24 At Daytona prize drive.

Two of British F3’s races carry Sunoco Whelen Challenge points, and Lundqvist made both count courtesy of a victory, second place, pole position and fastest lap. That took his season’s average score to 100, 12.5 more than he achieved at the opening round earlier this month.

Lundqvist therefore leads Phil Keen by just one point after the British GT3 Pro suffered a mixed bag at Rockingham where points for pole position helped boost a relatively modest sixth place finish. However, his overall average was still cut by 13.75 points.

Mercedes-AMG factory driver Yelmer Buurman enjoyed a solid first British GT appearance at Oulton Park but announced himself as a genuine Whelen contender by winning from the back of the GT3 grid at Rockingham. The 100 points earned for doing so took his season’s average to 95.33, 7.83 more than fourth placed Stuart Moseley (Radical Masters SR8) and another 5.25 clear of Brad Smith (LMP3 Cup), neither of whom were in action last weekend.

Four of the top-10’s remaining places are now also filled by British GT drivers, Darren Turner’s GT3 podium helping him climb four positions to sixth ahead of GT4 race winner Patrik Matthiesen whose new class lap record also helped increase the Dane’s average by 33 points.

Jonny Adam and Callum Macleod are ninth and 10th, the latter moving up 10 places thanks to a GT3 rostrum, but both remain behind British F3’s Nicolai Kjaergaard despite the Dane’s average total being cut by 30 points.

240: Victories keep Whorton-Eales in the hunt

Dominant opening weekends for Kyle Reid and Steve Burgess ensured that Mini Challenge JCW and British GT Am front-runners were unable to overhaul the Mini Cooper and Radical Challenge drivers’ totals at Rockingham. However, several remain in contention should either of the early pace-setters falter next time out.

Two victories and a pole position represent a good return by anyone’s standard. However, a higher average at Oulton Park actually saw Ant Whorton-Eales lose ground in the 240 standings to not only Reid and Burgess but also F3 Cup driver Stephen Daly. Nevertheless, the JCW ace’s new total of 113.33 – reduced by 6.67 marks – still represents an excellent return from the first two weekends.

Indeed, current leader Reid – as well as Burgess and Daly – must maintain incredibly high standards throughout the campaign if they’re to fend off Whorton-Eales and fellow JCW title challenger Jordan Collard who remains fifth in the 240 standings, albeit with 13.33 fewer points than at the start of Rockingham’s race weekend.

British GT3 race winner Lee Mowle increased his average by 11 points to move up six places to seventh behind Radical Challenge racer Dominic Jackson, who also inherited a spot without turning a wheel. That was partly thanks to Jon Minshaw dropping from seventh to 10th following a frustrating British GT3 outing.

Minshaw’s misfortune also promoted F3 Cup’s Shane Kelly to eighth and partly helped British GT4’s Kelvin Fletcher, who climbed from 18th to ninth with a much-improved 86.17 average score courtesy of the class’ fastest amateur lap and Pro/Am podium.

But there was also disappointment for fellow GT4 Am Adam Balon who dropped from sixth to 12th overall.

 

 

BRDC British F3 Youngsters Rev Up For Rockingham

The BRDC British F3 Championship heads to Rockingham this weekend with two Scandinavian drivers leading the way in the championship standings.

Strong weekends at the season-opener at Oulton Park over the Easter weekend mean Carlin’s Nicolai Kjaergaard and Double R Racing’s Linus Lundqvist are currently top of the tree heading to Northamptonshire but, as the Oulton Park weekend proved, there are any number of drivers capable of running at the front of an international field.

Lundqvist claimed the first win of the year at Oulton Park to back up his championship credentials, before Manuel Maldonado and finally Kjaergaard each claimed victories, while a total of eight drivers went home having secured a podium finish during the weekend. Each victory was claimed by less than a second, and the hard fighting will most definitely continue at Rockingham this weekend!

Kjaergaard holds an 18-point lead in the standings over Lundqvist heading to Oulton Park, by virtue of his win and race one podium, while Fortec’s Tom Gamble is just three points further adrift, the young Brit taking his first F3 podium in the soaking wet final race at Oulton Park.

Lanan Racing’s Indian charge Kush Maini sits fourth in the standings, a position boosted by his podium in the final race of the Oulton Park weekend. He’s shown continuous strong form in testing and will be determined to make that show in racing conditions this weekend.

Douglas Motorsport’s Jamie Chadwick and Carlin’s Billy Monger have equal points, with both claiming podiums at Oulton Park. Chadwick’s third place in race two was her second rostrum in British F3, while Monger’s third place in race one was a dream comeback to racing after his 12-month layoff following his Formula 4 accident. Both drivers racked up the column inches afterwards, and will be keen for more in Northamptonshire.

Oulton Park race two winner Maldonado tasted his first ever car race victory last time out. He’s within touching distance of the drivers ahead of him, and six points clear of Clement Novalak, who showed prodigious pace at Oulton Park but didn’t quite have the luck to go with it. Tristan Charpentier, and Krish Mahadik complete the early championship top 10 heading into the second weekend of action.

Sasakorn Chaimongkol showed excellent consistency for Hillspeed at Oulton Park and lies just outside the top-10, while Arvin Esmaeili on his F3 debut delivered three decent showings. He’s a single point ahead of Sun Yue Yang, who proved he means business this year with a sixth place in the first race of the year.

Pavan Ravishankar and Ben Hurst banked three good results at Oulton Park and lie ahead of Douglas Motorsport’s returnee Jordan Cane, who has since confirmed he will compete the full season. He’s determined to make amends from a tricky opening round after a last minute call-up, and the three-time winner from 2017 must be considered as a prime championship contender.

Chris Dittmann Racing’s Chia Wing Hoong meanwhile enjoyed moments at the front of the field at Oulton Park, and will be keen for a better slice of luck this weekend.

New additions to the field
A 19-car field covering 12 nationalities is expected at the Northamptonshire speed bowl, with Lanan Racing’s Josh Mason, and Hillspeed’s Jusuf Owega set to make their debuts. Both have a good deal of experience at the wheel of the Tatuus Cosworth BRDC British F3 car, and will be aiming for a strong starts to their British F3 careers this weekend.

The BRDC British F3 action commences with four test sessions on Friday, while qualifying starts at 10.40 on Saturday ahead of the first race at 14.15. The exciting reverse grid race two starts at 11.05 on Sunday morning before the final encounter kicks off at 15.25.

All the drama at Rockingham can be followed on the official BRDC British F3 Championship website, with live timing and updates throughout the event. TV highlights will be available on ITV4 a week after the event, as well as across the Motorsport.tv network and BT Sport.

BRDC British F3 Championship standings after race three of 24:
1. Nicolai Kjaergaard, Carlin, 88pts
2. Linus Lundqvist, Double R Racing, 70pts
3. Tom Gamble, Fortec Motorsports, 67pts
4. Kush Maini, Lanan Racing, 50pts
5. Jamie Chadwick, Douglas Motorsport, 49pts
6. Billy Monger, Carlin, 49pts
7. Manuel Maldonado, Fortec Motorsports, 46pts
8. Clement Novalak, Carlin, 40pts
9. Tristan Charpentier, Fortec Motorsports, 39pts
10. Krish Mahadik, Double R Racing, 31pts

 

Reid Tops 240 But Whelen Newcomers Can’t Catch Keen

Several new drivers have emerged as Sunoco Whelen and 240 Challenge contenders in recent weekends following the start of all eligible championships’ 2018 seasons.

Mini Challenge Cooper Pro class front-runner Kyle Reid has vaulted to the top of the Sunoco 240 Challenge standings thanks to a dominant display at Donington Park, while Stuart Moseley occupies third in the Whelen points following Radical European Masters’ first outing of the year.

Whelen: Moseley up and running but Keen remains well clear

British GT Championship leader and 2015 Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Phil Keen continues to top the senior standings on 112.75 points, a total he could add to at Rockingham this weekend.

He’s joined on the same bill by nearest rivals and BRDC British F3 title contenders Nicolai Kjaergaard and Linus Lundqvist, who are currently 10.25 and 25.25 points further back.

However, the latter now shares third with last season’s Whelen runner-up Stuart Moseley who began his Radical European Masters SR3 campaign in impressive fashion at Estoril on April 13-15. Indeed, only a lack of entries and resulting loss of points prevented the Briton from making more of an impact on the Sunoco leaderboard after claiming all three pole positions and fastest laps, as well as two race victories.

Moseley’s 87.5 total is 5.25 points more than Brad Smith’s, whose strong LMP3 Cup form was similarly tempered by the low turnout at Donington last weekend. Two fastest laps and pole positions plus a win and fourth pace see the Mactech Motorsport driver slot into fifth.

The rest of the top-10 remains unchanged, with the first of British GT4’s Pro contingent, Ben Barnicoat, occupying sixth ahead of Yelmer Buurman, Scott Malvern, Jack Mitchell and Darren Turner. Colin Noble, who finished third in last year’s Whelen standings, is 12th at this early stage after beginning his LMP3 Cup campaign at Donington.

240: Impressive Reid serves notice

In contrast to its Whelen counterpart, the start of new seasons for several eligible series has resulted in considerable changes to the Sunoco 240 Challenge’s top-10 over the last two weeks.

Erstwhile leader Ant Whorton-Eales remains very much in contention on 120 points, but the Mini Challenge JCW ace’s total is now only good enough for third following Kyle Reid and Steve Burgess’ impressive first outings of 2018.

Mini Challenge racer Reid served notice of his 240 and Cooper Pro class title aspirations by dominating the championship’s opening weekend at Donington where a rare maximum score was only denied by Simon Walton recording Race 2’s fastest lap.

Nevertheless, his 130 points were still 8.33 more than Burgess scored in the first three races of this year’s Radical UK Challenge last weekend. Two wins, fastest laps and pole positions, plus another podium, leave him 1.67 points clear of Whorton-Eales, while Stephen Daly has slotted into fourth courtesy of a strong F3 Cup opener at Brands Hatch.

Jordan Collard, Adam Balon and Jon Minshaw all move down three places but have an opportunity to build on their 100+ scores this weekend at Rockingham, while Burgess’ Radical Challenge rival Dominic Jackson is eighth after adding a pole position to his podium haul at Donington. Shane Kelly (F3 Cup) and Jerome De Sadelier (Radical Challenge) complete the top-10.

This weekend sees British GT3 and GT4 drivers, plus those from BRDC British F3 and Mini Challenge JCW, battling it out for Sunoco Challenge points at Rockingham.

What are the Sunoco Challenges?

 The Sunoco Challenges provide an accurate assessment and comparison of performances across multiple championships during any given season. Points are awarded for qualifying and race results, including fastest lap, which are then converted into an individual average score for each competing driver over the course of a full campaign.

That means each race weekend offers drivers an equal chance to climb and drop down their respective Sunoco Challenge table. It also ensures that performances are taken into consideration across an entire season while placing less emphasis on one-off or unfair results.

This year’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge champion will win a fully funded race seat at the 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona, courtesy of Whelen.

Meanwhile, Sunoco’s 240 Challenge champion will contest Daytona’s 240-minute Continental Tire SportsCar Championship support race held over the same January weekend at the wheel of a Sunoco-supported GT4 car.

The Sunoco Challenges are organised by Sunoco Racing Fuels’ official European distributor, Anglo American Oil Company Ltd.

To celebrate the Sunoco Whelen Challenge’s 10th anniversary AAOC is allowing all previous winners to enter once again. Ordinarily Bradley Smith (2014), Phil Keen (2015) and Jonny Adam (2016) would have been ineligible to fight for a second trip to Daytona.

Sunoco Whelen Challenge-eligible series

BRDC British Formula 3 Championship

British GT Championship – GT3 Pro and GT4 Pro

LMP3 Cup – Pro

Radical European Masters – SR3 Pro and SR8 Pro

Sunoco 240 Challenge-eligible series

Britcar Endurance Championship

British GT Championship – GT3 Am and GT4 Am

F3 Cup Championship

GT Cup Championship

LMP3 Cup – Am

Mini Challenge – JCW and Cooper Pro

Radical Challenge

Radical European Masters – SR3 Am and SR8 Am

Superb Smith Secures First LMP3 CUP Victory In Donington Thriller

Superb Smith secures first LMP3 Cup victory in Donington Park thriller

SUPERB SMITH SECURES FIRST LMP3 CUP VICTORY IN DONINGTON PARK THRILLER

Mectech Motorsport took a first LMP3 Cup victory for itself and the Norma M30, in the hands of Bradley Smith and Duncan Williams, at Donington Park. Williams started on pole but fell back to fourth during his stint as he was harried by the fast-starting Johnny Mowlem, Jack Butel, and Andrew Bentley.

 

Mowlem, lining up seventh on the grid, took the lead on the opening lap of the 60-minute race in an incredible start, but was handed a 10s penalty for starting out of position. Williams was quickly put under pressure for second by Bentley who passed the Norma, then set after the race leader.

“It was a great race. I was told the car is a bit of a diva before I sat in it,” said Williams. “It needs someone of Bradley’s calibre to really show what it is capable of – I drive for 25-minutes and keep it on the black stuff! We’ve only had a small amount of running before this weekend in the dry, so we’re still learning about the car.”

Handing over to Smith at the pit stop, the Norma driver began setting a number of blistering laps in third place before passing Dominic Paul and hassling Charlie Hollings into a slight error by Hollings at McLeans, which allowed him to take the lead.

“Duncan did a great job of keeping it at the front of the field,” said Smith. “The team have worked really hard over the past few weeks, so thank you to the guys at Mectech and Norma for giving us a great car. We’ve learned a lot this weekend and hopefully we can continue to improve throughout the season.”

Hollings and Colin Noble were locked in a titanic battle for second place for much of the final part of the race, with the reigning champion desperately trying to find a way past but finding the United Autosports Ligier wherever he tried to go. As it looked like the pair would hold station Noble forced a small mistake by Hollings and made the move with a couple of minutes left.

“I had to lift on the start,” said Noble’s team-mate Tony Wells. “I settled into a rhythm and we had a smooth pit stop and Colin drove well to come through to second. It was interesting watching him try to get past lap after lap!”

“It’s quite tricky trying to follow through the high-aero corners out the back,” said Noble. “Following was hard and you get lots of understeer trying to stay close enough, but I kept him under pressure until he made a slight mistake and I got the undercut. I was happy, I had to work for it, but it was a good weekend with two second place finishes. We’re continuing our form after coming second in the Michelin Le Mans Cup and hopefully we can build on this weekend.”

Bentley was delighted with a podium spot and effusive in his praise for the LMP3 Cup after the weekend’s racing, while Hollings was also happy for the opportunity to race. “I really enjoyed that,” said Bentley. “Anyone handing a car over in the lead is going to be happy with it, but I haven’t driven it for over six months. I’ve had no testing or preparation, so to lead what is an incredibly strong field was brilliant. Huge thanks to United Autosports and Ligier for giving us the opportunity.”

“I wasn’t quick enough to be honest,” said Hollings. “The car was great all weekend, but we’ve broken the rear diffuser and I thought we might get away with it as I had that great stint with Colin Noble and keeping him behind, but he got past so well done to him and the guys in front. It’s been good fun, I’ve loved it, it’s a great car to drive so thank you to Ligier and United Autosports.”

Rounds three and four of the 2018 LMP3 Cup Championship take place at Brands Hatch on the Grand Prix circuit on May 19/20.

Results, 55 laps, 60m 37.130s

1 – Duncan Williams / Bradley Smith – Mectech Motorsport (Norma M30)
2 – Tony Wells / Colin Noble – Ecurie Ecosse Nielsen Racing (Ligier JS P3)
3 – Andrew Bentley / Charlie Hollings – United Autosports (Ligier JS P3)

Fastest lap

Bradley Smith, 1m 02.498s, 113.99 mph / 186.46 kph

 

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SUNOCO CHALLENGE: KEEN GRABS EARLY WHELEN LEAD AS HAIGH AND BALON SHARE 240 SPOILS AT OULTON PARK

British GT drivers sit atop both Sunoco UK Challenge standings after Oulton Park, with 2015 winner Phil Keen leading the Whelen points, and Flick Haigh and Adam Balon sharing 240’s summit!

📝 SUNOCO CHALLENGE: KEEN GRABS EARLY WHELEN LEAD AS HAIGH AND BALON SHARE 240 SPOILS AT OULTON PARKBritish GT drivers…

Posted by British GT Championship on Wednesday, 4 April 2018

OFFICIAL WHELEN STANDINGS 2nd April 2018

Official standings for Sunoco Whelen Challenge 2018, 2nd April 2018.

Standings Name Team Series Average Points
1 Phil Keen Barwell Motorsport British GT3 112.75
2 Nicolai Kjaergaard Carlin Motorsport British F3 102.50
3 Linus Lundqvist Double R Racing British F3 87.50
4 Ben Barnicoat Track-Club British GT4 79.75
5 Yelmer Buurman ERC Sport British GT3 77.00
6 Scott Malvern Team Parker Racing British GT4 77.00
7 Jack Mitchell Century Motorsport British GT4 74.25
8 Darren Turner Beechdean AMR British GT3 71.50
9 Jonny Adam Optimum Motorsport British GT3 66.00
10 Michael O’Brien Tolman Motorsort British GT4 59.40
11 Charlie Fagg Tolman Motorsort British GT4 59.40
12 Will Burns HHC Mptorsport British GT4 57.75
13 Marco Sorensen TF Sport British GT3 55.00
14 Billy Monger Carlin Motorsport British F3 50.00
15 Patrick Kujala Barwell Motorsport British GT3 49.50
16 Callum Macleod Team Parker Racing British GT3 49.50
17 Kush Maini Lanan Racing British F3 45.00
18 Joe Osborne Tolman Motorsport British GT4 44.00
19 Clement Novalak Carlin Motorsport British F3 42.50
20 Nicki Thiim TF Sport British GT3 41.25
21 Jamie Chadwick Douglas Motorsport British F3 40.00
22 Callum Pointon HHC Mptorsport British GT4 39.60
23 Patrik Matthiesen HHC Motorsport British GT4 39.60
24 Mike Robinson Balfe Motorsport British GT4 35.75
25 Krishnaraaj Mahadik Double R Racing British F3 35.00
26 Jonny Cocker Barwell Motorsport British GT3 33.00
27 Martin Plowman UltraTek Racing Team RjN British GT4 30.25
28 Tristan Charpentier Fortec Motorsports British F3 22.50
29 Sun Yue Yang Carlin Motorsport British F3 22.50
30 Jordan Albert Tolman Motorsort British GT4 22.28
31 Lewis Proctor Tolman Motorsort British GT4 22.28
32 Ben Tuck Century Motorsport British GT4 17.33
33 Ben Green Century Motorsport British GT4 17.33
34 Maxime Martin Jetstream Motorsport British GT3 16.50
35 Michael Broadhurst Fox Motorsport British GT4 16.50
Rob Bell Balfe Motorsport British GT3 13.75
36 Tom Wood Academy Motorsport British GT4 9.90
37 Jan Janck Academy Motorsport British GT4 9.90
38 Ryan Ratcliffe Team Parker Racing British GT3 2.75
39 Manuel Maldonado Fortec Motorsports British F3 2.50
40 Sasakorn Chaimongkol Hillspeed British F3 2.50
41 Ben Hurst Hillspeed British F3 0.00
42 Pavan Ravishankar Double R Racing British F3 0.00
43 Arvin Esmaeili Douglas Motorsport British F3 0.00
44 Chia Wing Hoong Chris Dittmann Racing British F3 0.00
45 Finlay Hutchinson Equipe Verschuur British GT4 0.00
46 Daniel McKay Equipe Verschuur British GT4 0.00
47 Callum Hawkins-Row Team Hard Racing British GT4 0.00
48 Matthew George Invictus Games Racing British GT4 0.00
49 Jesse Antilla UltraTek Racing Team RjN British GT4 0.00
50 Will Moore Academy Motorsport British GT4 0.00
51 Matt Nicoll-Jones Academy Motorsport British GT4 0.00
52 Sennan Fielding Stellar Motorsport British GT4 0.00
53 Alex Quin Stellar Motorsport British GT4 0.00
54 Dean Mcdonald Steller Performance British GT4 0.00
55 Benjamin Wallace Team Hard Racing British GT4 0.00
56 Devan Modell RJN Motorsport British GT3 0.00
57 Struan Moore RJN Motorsport British GT3 0.00

Middleton Daytona-bound after sealing Sunoco Whelen Challenge title

Reigning British GT4 champion Stuart Middleton has become the youngest driver ever to win the Sunoco Whelen Challenge after his only remaining rival, Stuart Moseley, was unable to score enough points during the final round of his Radical European Masters campaign last weekend.

The 17-year-old is now guaranteed a fully funded prize drive at the world-famous Rolex 24 At Daytona. The package, worth an estimated $250,000, includes testing at the South Florida venue later this year before taking part in the official ‘Roar Before the Rolex 24’ in early January. That’s followed by the race itself on January 27/28.

Middleton joins the front-running Action Express Racing squad whose Whelen-sponsored Cadillac DPi VR is completely different to the Ginetta G55 GT4 he’s driven in British GT this year. The Cadillac – a sports-prototype built specifically for long-distance racing – features a 6.2-litre V8 engine and produces roughly 600bhp, twice the power of the Ginetta. The Cadillac will also approach speeds of 200mph on Daytona’s famous oval banking.

The incredible opportunity sees the teenager from Ashington, in Northumberland, paired with three superstar co-drivers who will share the #31 Cadillac during the twice-around-the-clock enduro. Ex-Formula 1 driver Felipe Nasr is also a former Sunoco Whelen Challenge champion, while Mike Conway raced in IndyCar before joining Toyota’s factory LMP1 programme. Team stalwart and 2016 IMSA champion Eric Curran completes the formidable line-up.

Indeed, the combination of Action Express Racing, Cadillac and talented driver crew offers Middleton a realistic chance of claiming a podium on debut. Last year’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Seb Morris led the race aboard the same car before reliability issues stymied the team’s progress, while Nasr’s third place from 2012 remains the best result in the competition’s nine-year history.

Middleton’s success was built on a standout maiden British GT4 campaign alongside HHC Motorsport co-driver Will Tregurtha, who finished second in the final Sunoco Whelen Challenge standings by just 2.2 points. Together they became the youngest driver crew in terms of combined age to win a British GT title and were both also elevated to BRDC Rising Star status.

Moseley, meanwhile, required an exceptional final Radical European Masters outing at Barcelona to have any hope of surpassing Middleton’s 78.1-point average score. His chances were scuppered by the event’s low entry count, which restricted the number of Sunoco Whelen Challenge points available for pole positions, race results and fastest laps. He fought valiantly to record three poles, a fastest lap and two podiums, while a broken upright denied him a near certain victory in Race 2. Nevertheless, even with a minimum of 10 cars on the grid, his weekend results wouldn’t have been sufficient to overturn Middleton’s advantage. He therefore ends the season third overall, 9.7 points behind the winner.

Middleton continues British GT’s run of Sunoco Whelen Challenge success after Morris and Jonny Adam claimed the prize for their performances during 2016 and 2015, respectively. He also joins reigning British GT3 champion Rick Parfitt Jnr at Daytona after the amateur driver claimed this year’s Sunoco 240 Challenge title. As reward, the 43-year-old is contesting the 240-minute BMW Endurance Challenge support race, which is also the opening round of 2018’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, aboard a GT4 car.

Stuart Middleton, 2018 Sunoco Whelen Challenge champion: “I’m ecstatic, speechless to be honest. This is such a huge prize and an incredible opportunity for me so early in my career, I can’t thank Anders Hildebrand and everyone at Anglo-American Oil enough. Being part of the Action Express team with Felipe, Mike and Eric is just amazing… it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

“My first season in GT4 with my fantastic team-mate Will Tregurtha was just amazing, we couldn’t believe how competitive we were right from the first round and that was without hardly any testing before the season started. The year just got better and better for us and as well as the GT4 title, the Sunoco prize started to become a possibility too.

“To win the championship in our rookie year was more than we could have hoped for, and for me to now win the Sunoco Whelen Challenge is the icing on the cake. I really want to grab this chance with both hands and do the very best I can, although it’s not going to be easy.

“This is a huge step-up for me: not only will it be my first ever 24-hour race but it’s going to be in one of the biggest and most demanding races in the world with some of the very best drivers and teams on the planet. It’s going to be amazing driving at Daytona too, something I never realistically thought might happen in my career – this is such a special moment for me and I’m absolutely delighted.”

Anders Hildebrand, Anglo American Oil Company Ltd Managing Director: “Giving young drivers like Stuart an incredible opportunity is exactly what the Sunoco Whelen Challenge is all about! 12 months ago, racing in Ginetta Juniors, the chance to compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona would have been unthinkable. And even at the start of this year I’m sure it would have seemed a distant dream. But here he is, on the cusp of competing in one of the world’s most famous endurance events aboard a car and alongside drivers that have a genuine chance of success. It’s incredible.

“This was the first year that we extended the senior competition to professional GT4 drivers, and Stuart – as well as his British GT co-driver Will – has fully justified our decision. I also think having Felipe in the team will be a huge benefit to Stuart, who is by far our youngest winner since Felipe claimed the 2012 title. I can’t wait to see how he compares against a very quick and seasoned sportscar racing line-up.”

The Sunoco Whelen and 240 Challenges will return in 2018. In the meantime stay tuned for further updates concerning Middleton and Parfitt Jnr’s Daytona adventure.

What are the Sunoco Challenges?

The Sunoco Challenges provide an accurate assessment and comparison of performances across multiple championships during any given season. Points are awarded for qualifying and race results, including fastest lap, which are then converted into an individual average score for each competing driver over the course of a full campaign.

That means each race weekend offers drivers an equal chance to climb and drop down their respective Sunoco Challenge table. It also ensures that performances are taken into consideration across an entire season while placing less emphasis on one-off or unfair results.

As in previous years this season’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge champion will win a fully funded drive aboard a Whelen-sponsored Cadillac DPi sports-prototype in the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Meanwhile, Sunoco’s 240 Challenge champion will contest the 240-minute Daytona support race held over the same January weekend at the wheel of a Sunoco-liveried GT4 car.

Sunoco Race Fuels mapping Offer 2018

Upgraded your car over the winter? want to increase power and run higher levels of boost safely? Well here’s your chance to save some money and test the difference a good fuel can make to the setup of your car. Save up to £99+VAT on your fuel order on selected fuels for mapping your car until April 15th. Need expert advice on choosing the right fuel? then give us a call!