Sunoco Challenge: Keen’s retirement helps Lundqvist extend Whelen lead at Brands Hatch
Linus Lundqvist took a step closer to competing in the 2019 Daytona 24 Hours after extending his Sunoco Whelen Challenge lead at Brands Hatch last weekend.
Kyle Reid also remains on course to win the Sunoco 240 Challenge after British GT’s GT3 and GT4 amateurs failed to reduce the Mini Challenge Cooper driver’s significant advantage.
Whelen: Lundqvist does enough
British F3 and British GT’s joint event at Brands Hatch represented a penultimate opportunity for Phil Keen to cut Linus Lundqvist’s advantage. But, instead, it was the Carlin driver who left Kent with one hand firmly on the senior competition’s trophy after extending his lead to 17.89 points.
It might have been very different for Keen whose retirement prevented the British GT3 Pro from taking advantage of Lundqvist’s winless weekend. Indeed, the Swede also failed to set a fastest lap or claim pole position for either of the two races that count towards the Sunoco Whelen Challenge, which actually reduced his overall score by almost four points.
Nevertheless, his new 98.33 season average now looks beyond Keen’s reach, while Stuart Moseley will be relying on bigger Radical European Masters grids at the championship’s final two rounds if he’s to potentially collect the maximum number of points still available. He’s now 22.44 marks behind Lundqvist in the overall standings.
Further back, Nicolai Kjaergaard is now just 1.31 points behind Moseley in fourth after claiming a British F3 win, third place and two fastest laps at Brands Hatch, while a who’s-who of world GT stars – Jonny Adam, Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen and Yelmer Buurman – fill positions five to eight following their latest British GT exploits. Just four points separate the quartet.
British GT4 championship leader Jack Mitchell is best of the championship’s ‘juniors’ in ninth, and British F3 driver Kush Maini completes the top-10.
240: No change at the top
With the top-six drivers, including long-time leader Kyle Reid, not in action at Brands Hatch, the focus shifted to the amateur drivers racing in British GT3 and GT4.
Kelvin Fletcher has led the category’s charge in recent weeks and again improved his average score by finishing second in GT4’s Pro/Am class. His new 87.45-point total is 29.22 marks behind that of Reid, whose lead over nearest rival Steve Burgess (Radical Challenge) remains 14.59 points.
Burgess, as well as those drivers occupying positions three to six, will go head-to-head this weekend when Brands Hatch hosts Mini Challenge JCW and Radical Challenge heads to Snetterton. Reid, meanwhile, returns to action at Brands Hatch’s ‘Mini Fest’ on August 25-26.
The only other significant change saw Flick Haigh move from 14th to 10th after claiming fastest Am lap en route to British GT3 victory alongside Jonny Adam.
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