Whorton-Eales Hits The Hat-Trick

Ant Whorton-Eales couldn’t have hoped for a better start to this year’s MINI CHALLENGE JCW Championship, having racked up his third win on the bounce in a disrupted second race at Rockingham.

The win looked in doubt when AW-E drew the maximum number for the reversed grid, meaning he’d start back in eighth. But trouble for many of his rivals essentially handed Whorton-Eales yet another win.

Henry Neal should have started on pole, but his car lost drive shortly after he pulled away from the line to start the green flag lap, meaning the disappointed polesitter had to be towed off the track.

That left Lawrence Davey as the sole starter from the front row, but even he didn’t get the best launch. AW-E did, and was already up to fourth by the time the pack ran into Turn One, and then found himself in the lead when Davey and his closest challengers ran wide at Deene on the brakes.

The safety car made an appearance after the first tour when Brad Hutchison was spat into the Turn One wall after a tangle in the pack. New, and rather surprised, leader Whorton-Eales controlled the restart well, but the race was soon stopped by red flags after a multi-car tangle on the exit of Turn One.

The accident claimed the hopes of many of the race one protagonists, with Calum King, Luke Reade and James Gornall all removed from contention, alongside others.

With just three laps run, the grid was reformed for a standing start, and AW-E again got away well from pole, chased by Rob Smith, Jordan Collard, Ollie Pidgley, Lewis Brown and Davey.

As Whorton-Eales began to forge a sizable gap ahead, Smith was struggling. “I don’t know what’s going on, perhaps it was because we ran slightly older tyres, but the car didn’t feel that quick,” he said. “It was bumping like mad around Pif-Paf so that made it unsettled on the brakes into Gracelands. I was just hanging on.

First Collard and then Brown deposed Smith, as Nathan Harrison – who had started back in 28th after his race one disappointment – closed in on the top four. With two laps to go Harrison had passed Smith for fourth and latched on to the rear of Brown. He drafted alongside into Deene and secured the final spot on the podium, but ran out of time to do anything about Collard or runaway leader Whorton-Eales.

I like this place, I’ve always gone well around here – perhaps it’s because ovals are in my blood,” beamed AW-E. “I never expected to be into the lead off the first lap. I just got a great start and then the doors just got opened for me when they all went too deep into Deene. I just went straight through. I couldn’t have imagined a getter start to the year.

Collard celebrated another strong weekend with second, but Harrison was a man relieved. “Starting so far back I just needed some points and never thought a podium would be possible,” said Harrison. “It just shows what can happen when you don’t give up and keep pushing. Ant’s on a roll, so recovering a podium here is massive in terms of keeping me in the fight.

Brown, who had started the day 23rd for race one, said fourth was a strong result. “It was so near yet so far from the podium, but I can hardly be unhappy as I’d have definitely taken a P4 at the start of the day,” he said.

Rob Smith wound up fifth ahead of Pidgley, Rory Cuff, Davey and Jac Maybin. Ryan Dignan completed the top 10 ahead of Scott Jeffs, James Loukes, Ben Dimmack and newcomer Louis Doyle.

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

Burgess Doubles up at Donington. De Sadeleer Scores Maiden Win

Donington Park, Leicestershire – Sunday 22 April 2018; Steve Burgess took a brace of Radical Challenge race wins at the season-opening rounds to leave Donington Park at the top of the title table. He shared the weekend spoils with series newcomer, reigning SR1 Cup Champion Jérôme de Sadeleer, who notched up his first victory of his […]

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

Parfitt Jnr wins 2018 Sunoco 240 Challenge as Hawkins and Hammond fall short at Snetterton

Rick Parfitt Jnr has been crowned the 2018 Sunoco 240 Challenge champion after his only remaining rivals, Jessica Hawkins and Matt Hammond, failed to score enough points during their Mini Challenge Cooper class season finale at Snetterton last weekend.

The prize sees this year’s British GT3 champion travel to South Florida in January to drive a GT4 car in the Rolex 24 At Daytona’s 240-minute BMW Endurance Challenge support race, which is also the opening round of 2018’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. A comprehensive test programme during the traditional ‘Roar Before the Rolex 24’ is included, along with flights and accommodation.

Parfitt Jnr becomes the first amateur to win Sunoco’s 240 competition based on results accrued during a British GT campaign. Equally, he is the series’ first representative to claim the 240 Challenge title after both Team Parker Racing co-driver Seb Morris and Jonny Adam won Whelen’s 2017 and ’16 equivalents, while no other driver has become champion while co-driving with a reigning or former Challenge winner.

2018’s edition will also go down as the closest in Sunoco Whelen and 240 Challenge history, with just 0.42 points separating Parfitt Jnr from Mini Challenge JCW champion Brett Smith in the final reckoning.

Hawkins and Hammond entered their final weekend battling each other for both the Sunoco 240 Challenge crown and Mini Challenge Cooper class title. Each required exceptional outings if they were to score the 375 points (out of a maximum 420) necessary to leapfrog ahead of Parfitt Jnr. As a result, the pair could have prevented each other from winning the Challenge by sharing pole positions, fastest race laps and wins, but ultimately it was Sam Weller who gatecrashed the party by annexing all three victories and a pole position.

Hawkins therefore finished third in the final 240 standings and 6.81 points behind Parfitt Jnr, while Hammond was one place and a further 0.22 marks adrift. However, he did at least do enough to win this year’s Mini Challenge Cooper Pro class title.

Rick Parfitt Jnr, 2018 Sunoco 240 Challenge Champion: “I’m totally over the moon to have won the Sunoco 240 Challenge, which is the icing on the cake of what has been a very tough year for me. I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part and will attempt to do you all proud! What a year it’s been: becoming the first driver to win both a British GT3 and GT4 title, helping Bentley and Team Parker claim their maiden British GT Championship crowns, British GT Pro/Am winner with Seb [Morris] and now the Sunoco 240 Challenge champion – it simply cannot get any better than that! Thank you to everyone who has supported me this year – I am hugely humbled and immensely grateful. Needless to say I can’t wait to race at the incredible Daytona International Speedway and be part of one of the world’s biggest motorsport events.”

Anders Hildebrand, Anglo American Oil Company Ltd Managing Director: “What a season for Rick and the 240 Challenge, which has been incredibly competitive from the very start! A stellar British GT campaign meant he was a contender throughout the year, although finishing one position lower at Donington would have actually seen Brett [Smith] win the competition. That’s how close it’s been! Rick maintains British GT’s recent run of winners, and his experience of both GT3 and GT4 means I’m confident he’ll be immediately on the pace at Daytona in January. I’ve no doubt he’ll be learning as much as he can from Seb [Morris] who performed so well there as our out-going Whelen champion earlier this year. Speaking of which, our attention now switches to the Sunoco Whelen Challenge where Stuart Moseley is aiming to prevent another British GT champion – Stuart Middleton – from winning a fully-funded Cadillac DPi drive in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.”

Moseley – who currently trails Middleton by 7.85 points – will have one more chance to overturn his deficit during Radical European Masters’ Barcelona season finale on October 28/29. He requires 329 points of the maximum 420 available, 120 of which can be banked with three fastest laps and same number of pole positions. That leaves 209 more marks to find across the weekend’s three races. Two seconds and a sixth would, for instance, be enough, but with grid numbers and his co-driver’s performance outside of Moseley’s control, there are no guarantees.

Current Sunoco Whelen Challenge standings

Racer                   Class                  Now           Rounds left        Max points       Min points

Stuart Middleton   British GT4PRO    78.10         finished

Will Tregurtha      British GT4PRO     75.90        finished

Stuart Moseley     Radical Euro         70.25        3                       84.20              56.20

Matt Bell             LMP3 Cup             68.21        finished

Colin Noble Jnr    LMP3 Cup             68.08        finished

Next races:

Snetterton 14-15 Oct     GT Cup / Radical Challenge / Mini Cooper

Oulton 20-21 Oct           Britcar Endurance

Barcelona 27-29 Oct      Radical EuroMasters

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 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.

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!

Dreams Can Come True – Are You Up For The Challenge?

The new racing season is approaching fast. It will soon be time for prizes to be won and dreams to come true. The Sunoco Whelen Challenge and Sunoco 240 Challenge winners Rick Parfitt Jr and Stuart Middleton from the British GT Championship claimed the prize last year. Who will it be this year? You have to be in it to win it!!!

Sign up now at http://www.sunocochallenge.com/