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Sunoco 240 Challenge winner Bladon finishes 11th on Daytona debut

Sunoco 240 Challenge winner Bladon finishes 11th on Daytona debut

 

Max Bladon has become the sixth different Sunoco 240 Challenge winner to compete at the legendary Daytona International Speedway after finishing 11th in Friday’s four-hour IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race, the official support event to this weekend’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.

 

The 20-year-old Briton dominated the ‘junior’ Sunoco Challenge competition throughout 2016 en route to both the competition’s second highest-ever points total and Mini Challenge Cooper class title, and displayed the same kind of potential around Daytona’s famous banking during the opening 90 minutes of yesterday’s race.

 

Bladon’s preparations for this weekend’s event were significantly disrupted during the Roar test two weeks ago, but he dug deep during Thursday’s qualifying session to set the 15th quickest time aboard his #09 Racers Edge Motorsports-entered Aston Martin despite being compromised by the V8 Vantage’s manual gearbox.

 

Qualifying the car also meant Bladon had the honour of starting the four-hour endurance race. Lacking the performance to immediately go on the offensive, he was instead content to play the long-game in an effort to pick up places as the race progressed. 

 

And, sure enough, by the time his double stint was over Bladon had climbed three spots to 12th overall thanks to a mature, fault-free performance. 

 

A series of dramas for his co-drivers Ramin Abdolvahabi and Chris Beaufait, including a spin on fluid and late puncture, meant the trio would only gain one more place over the remaining two-and-a-half hours. Nevertheless, Bladon was still delighted with his maiden outing at one of the world’s most iconic motorsport venues.

 

Max Bladon: “I’m really happy with the result. There might have been an opportunity for 10th without the puncture near the end but these things happen in motor racing. At least the car’s in one piece, which is more than can be said for some of the others! We never had the pace to fight at the front but it was nice to pick up a few places as reliability became more of a factor later in the race. I also set my fastest lap of the weekend today, which proves I was getting quicker and quicker as I became more comfortable with the car. I just wish I could do it all over again! 

 

“It’s been an incredible experience from start to finish; Sunoco and Anglo American Oil Company really look after you, so anyone with the chance to enter this season’s competition should take it very seriously. 12 months ago I couldn’t have dreamt of being here and racing at Daytona.”

 

Anders Hildebrand, Anglo American Oil Company: “It’s been a pleasure to have Max here with us this weekend in Daytona and at the Roar test two weeks ago. His enthusiasm for the competition and this incredible opportunity has been clear for all to see, and I think he will take a lot from the experience. Helping young drivers like Max, who might not necessarily receive the recognition they deserve nationally, is what the Sunoco 240 Challenge is all about. The team’s feedback was also very encouraging - there’s not a lot more he could have achieved this weekend. I’ve no doubt he will go on to bigger and better things in the future.”

 

Today it’s the turn of Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Seb Morris to make his Daytona debut as part of the championship-winning Action Express Racing squad. The Welshman and co-drivers Eric Curran, Dane Cameron and Mike Conway begin their quest for Rolex 24 At Daytona glory at 14:30 local time.

 

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 2017’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge champion Seb Morris won a fully funded drive aboard Action Express’ Whelen-sponsored Cadillac sports-prototype in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

 

Meanwhile, Sunoco’s 240 Challenge champion Max Bladon contests the four-hour Daytona support race held over the same January weekend at the wheel of a Racers Edge Motorsports Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

 

Seb Morris - 2017 Sunoco Whelen Challenge Champion

 

Race: Rolex 24 At Daytona

Team: Whelen Engineering Racing/Action Express Racing

Car: #31 Cadillac DPi-V.R

Co-drivers: Dane Cameron/Eric Curran/Mike Conway

 

Nationality: British

Age: 21

DOB: 30/11/1995

Born: Wrexham

Lives: Wrexham

Web: www.sebmorris.com

Twitter: @SebMorris31

 

2016: British GT3, Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 with Rick Parfitt 3rd (1 win)

2015: GP3 Series, Status Grand Prix 18th

2014: Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, Fortec Motorsports 3rd (2 wins)

2013: BRDC Formula 4 Championship, Hillspeed 2nd (1 win)

2012: Formula Renault BARC Championship, Fortec Motorsport 3rd (5 wins)

2012: Formula Renault BARC Winter Series, Fortec Motorsport Champion (2 wins)

2011: Ginetta Junior Championship, Hillspeed Champion (11 wins)

2010: Ginetta Junior Championship, Hillspeed 12th

2010: Ginetta Junior Great Britain Winter Series, Hillspeed Champion (2 wins)

 

 

Max Bladon - 2017 Sunoco 240 Challenge Champion

 

Race: BMW Endurance Challenge At Daytona

Team: Racers Edge

Car: #09 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4

Co-drivers: Ramin Abdolvahabi/Chris Beaufait

 

Nationality: British

Age: 20

DOB: 21/11/1996

Born: Chester

Lives: Chester

Web: www.maxbladon.com

Twitter: @maxbladonracing

 

2016: Mini Challenge Cooper class, Excelr8 Motorsport Champion (14 wins)

2015: Mini Challenge Cooper class, Excelr8 Motorsport

2008 - 2014: Karting

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