Sunoco Challenge: Keen slips further behind F3 star Lundqvist at Spa
Linus Lundqvist tightened his grip on this year’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps where the BRDC Formula 3 Championship was joined by British GT. Meanwhile, at Oulton Park, Kyle Reid’s march towards Sunoco’s 240 Challenge was slowed only slightly during the latest Mini Challenge Cooper and JCW rounds.
Whelen: Lundqvist’s competition to lose
Linus Lundqvist’s lead now stands at a very healthy 14 points after two victories helped maintain his 102-point season average.
By contrast, Phil Keen scored just 55 points during his British GT3 outing in Belgium, which cut his overall average by 4.58 to 88. That might have been enough to retain second overall but the Barwell driver now requires an exceptional end to his 2018 campaign and a dip in Lundqvist’s form if he’s to become the first-ever two-time Sunoco Challenge winner.
Troubled weekends for several other British GT3 Pros and F3 drivers has allowed Radical European Masters racer Stuart Moseley to move back up to third. However, he will be relying on bigger grids next time out if he’s to apply serious pressure on Keen and Lundqvist ahead.
Lundqvist’s bid for this season’s British F3 crown and Sunoco Whelen Challenge Daytona 24 Hours prize drive both benefitted from a poor weekend for Nicolai Kjaergaard who’s now unlikely to recover from his current 68-point season average, while British GT3 Pro team-mates Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim also saw their slim chances effectively ended at Spa. The TF Sport pair are separated by just 0.79 points in fifth and sixth, the latter a position Thiim now shares with British GT title rival and former Whelen winner Jonny Adam.
Yelmer Buurman and Kush Maini both remain inside the top-10 and one place ahead of new British GT4 Championship leader Jack Mitchell whose consecutive class victories have helped improve his season’s average no end.
240: Reid gives rivals a glimmer of hope
Kyle Reid’s supreme start to the season ensured even a slight wobble would impact on his high average score, and so it proved for the first time in 2018 at Oulton Park. Nevertheless, extra points for Race 2 pole position and victory ensured his overall score remains a still formidable 116.67.
That’s 14.59 more than Radical Challenge racer Steve Burgess, who wasn’t in action last weekend, and another 3.51 ahead of Mini Challenge JCW championship leader Ant Whorton-Eales who rocketed from eighth to third after improving his average by more than 10 points.
Dominic Jackson, just like Radical rival Burgess, has another chance to make inroads into Reid’s advantage next weekend, while Mini Challenge JCW duo Nathan Harrison and Jordan Collard complete the top-six with 90 and 88.57 points, respectively.
Kelvin Fletcher has slipped from fourth to seventh despite finishing second in British GT4’s Pro/Am class. Robbie Dalgleish (Mini Challenge Cooper), Jon Minshaw (British GT3 Am) and Rob Smith (Mini Challenge JCW) complete 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