Rick Parfitt Jnr has finished second in this year’s Sunoco 200 Challenge standings, while British GT drivers also filled half of the top-10 positions.
Sunoco’s 200 Challenge is a nationwide competition to find the fastest and most consistent driver across a variety of motorsport categories. Whoever records the highest average score - based on race results, number of fastest laps and qualifying positions - wins a fully paid-for seat at the Daytona 24 Hours’ 200-mile support race in January.
2017’s competition was widened from GT4 drivers to include GT3 Ams, who were previously competing against their Pro counterparts for the ‘senior’ Sunoco Whelen Challenge spoils.
While Parfitt Jnr had no chance of overhauling newly crowned champion and Mini Challenge racer Max Bladon, his final average score of 87.39 - earned as a result of finishing third in the British GT3 Championship - was enough to beat Steve Burgess whose poor final Radical weekend dropped him below the Team Parker Racing driver.
2016 British GT3 champion and former Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Derek Johnston finished tied fourth with his GT4 title-winning counterpart Mike Robinson, while Jon Minshaw and Robinson’s PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport co-driver Graham Johnson finished on equal points in sixth.
With the 2017 Sunoco 200 Challenge settled, attention now switches to the Sunoco Whelen Challenge.
Rick Parfitt Jnr’s Team Parker Racing co-driver Seb Morris currently leads the race to win a fully funded seat aboard a Whelen-sponsored Chevrolet Corvette sports-prototype in January’s Daytona 24 Hours, but can still be overhauled by Marco Cencetti. The Italian has one final chance to bridge his 4.69-point deficit when the 2016 Radical Euro Masters SR3 campaign concludes at Jerez on October 29/30.
Victory for Morris would see him follow in the footsteps of Jonny Adam, who became the first British GT driver to win the prize last year. Phil Keen and Derek Johnston are also past champions, although their successes came from racing in different series.
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 Challenge champion will win a fully funded drive aboard a Whelen-sponsored prototype in the 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Meanwhile, Sunoco’s 200 Challenge champion will contest the 4 hour Daytona support race held over the same January weekend at the wheel of a Sunoco-liveried Ford Mustang.