Sunoco Challenge: Keen maintains pressure as Fletcher makes progress
Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps welcomed British GT Championship drivers, as well as those from BRDC British F3, Mini Challenge JCW and Radical UK Challenge, last Saturday and Sunday on a bumper weekend of Sunoco Whelen and 240 Challenge action.
However, two familiar names remain top of their respective standings after Linus Lundqvist defended his Whelen lead from Phil Keen thanks to another winning British F3 performance, and Kyle Reid extended his 240 advantage despite the Mini Challenge Cooper championship enjoying a weekend off.
Whelen: As you were at the top
Linus Lundqvist maintained his healthy lead in the race for January’s Daytona 24 Hours prize drive courtesy of another fast and consistent British F3 outing at Silverstone. A victory, pole position and second place in the championship’s two Sunoco points-paying contests helped him average 102.5 for the weekend, the same number as his pre- and post-event totals.
A slight improvement from his nearest rival Phil Keen – who finished second in British GT’s race at the same venue – saw the overall gap between them close by 0.18 points. However, Lundqvist’s new 9.92-point advantage remains significant as the season enters its second half. Indeed, the Swede will likely require a poor weekend if the likes of Keen and third place driver Stuart Moseley are to make serious inroads.
Lundqvist’s F3 title rival Nicolai Kjaergaard remains fourth, albeit 24.37 points adrift, while a second victory and third podium in as many British GT3 races has brought Nicki Thiim into play. The Dane made a sluggish start to the season but has risen up the rankings in recent weeks and now lies just 2.05 points behind his fellow countryman.
TF Sport team-mate and ‘Dane Train’ partner in crime Marco Sorensen picked up extra marks for a third consecutive British GT3 fastest lap at Silverstone and lies sixth, one place ahead of Kush Maini who added 10 to his season’s total by claiming two British F3 podiums, a pole position and fastest lap.
British GT3 rivals Yelmer Buurman and Jonny Adam are next up, while the same championship’s best placed GT4 Pro driver, Patrik Matthiesen, rounds out the top-10.
240: Reid extends lead without turning a wheel
A weekend off for leader Kyle Reid offered his Radical UK Challenge, British GT3/4 Am and Mini Challenge JCW rivals an opportunity to close the gap.
Steve Burgess went into the weekend as Reid’s nearest challenger after enjoying a strong start to this season’s Radical UK Challenge campaign. However, high average scores are only maintained through consistently strong results, and at Spa Burgess suffered his weakest weekend of the season so far. Indeed, just one podium and pole position across the three races reduced his average by more than 20 points to 102.22.
That’s 21.78 fewer than Reid and just 3.33 more than Radical rival Dominic Jackson who added 10 points to his season’s average by claiming three wins, two fastest laps and a pole position in Belgium.
Kelvin Fletcher also continued his climb up the standings thanks to another excellent British GT4 Am performance. Class victory and fastest lap sees him move up two places and nine points to fourth ahead of F3 Cup’s Stuart Wiltshire, who didn’t race last weekend, and Jon Minshaw who finished second in British GT3.
A perfect British GT3 weekend for Mark Farmer, which featured victory, fastest Am lap and pole position, sees him lie less than two points behind championship rival Minshaw and a similar number ahead of Mini Cooper Pro racer Robbie Dalgleish.
Ant Whorton-Eales picked up a brace of podiums to remain best-placed Mini Challenge JCW driver in ninth, while British GT4 Am Nick Jones rounds out the top-10.
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 Daytona 24 Hours, 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 European Masters – SR3 Am and SR8 Am