Problems characterised the latest round of races counting towards the Sunoco Daytona Challenge, several of the leading drivers dropping points, bunching up the top ten drivers in the chase for the race seat at next year's Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Felipe Nasr started the weekend leading both the British F3 standings and the Challenge standing, and though the Brazilian still holds both honours he struggled at Snetterton, failing to take a win for the first time this year.
He did, however, add two more pole positions to his tally, and score fastest lap in both of the F3 races that count towards the Challenge standings. He also picked up second place in the weekend's first race, though a puncture and a drive through penalty dropped him well down the order in the later event.
Victory in both races went to Nasr's Carlin teammate Kevin Magnussen. The Dane passed Nasr in both races, both times around the outside of Riches – the first corner. However, after troubled meetings to start the season even two wins leave Magnussen unable to make an impression on the top ten.
Also at Snetterton there were problems for the pacesetters in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship. After starting the season with a win David Ashburn was running well in his no.1 Trackspeed Porsche, until he lost control, collecting Gregor Fisken in the sister Porsche. The accident put both cars out of the race and drops Ashburn from the top ten in challenge points.
There was also disappointment for MTECH pairing Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron, genuine contenders of the GT title and so also for the Sunoco Daytona Challenge. With Griffin at the wheel they were fighting for the lead, when a back-marker span in front of them, leaving Griffin with no chance to avoid a costly contact, as he retired with a damaged radiator.
The previous week the British Endurance Championship had been at Donington Park, for a four hour race – the longest of the season so far. Keith Robinson – third in the Challenge before the race – nearly missed the race entirely after the engine in the MJC Ferrari failed in qualifying, only a late night deal and through the night work in the garage keeping the car in the field.
Javier Morcillo also dropped points. The Azteca Motorsport Mosler he shares with Manuel Cintrano failed to finish due to a gearbox malady, though Morcillo was still able to bank 40 points from the weekend thanks to a third consecutive pole of the year, and another fastest lap.
The overall victory at Donington fell to Michael and Sean McInerney (assisted by Phil Keen). Though they themselves were not trouble free during the race – having to run without the diffuser on their Eclipse Motorsport Ferrari for much of the race – they were able to take a comfortable win to add to their success in the previous round. Class 3 victory went to the Eurotech Porsche with Morgan and Gareth Jones – and the brothers move into the Challenge top ten for the first time.
However, the starring role of the Sunoco Daytona Challenge came at Snetterton – Michael Guasch and Matt Bell. The United Autosports duo overcame two penalties to take the lead of the British GT race on the final lap at the expense of Glynn Geddie in the CRS Racing Ferrari 458 Italia.
The result moves the Anglo-American pairing into joint third in the top ten.
Sunoco Daytona Challenge Points as of May 16
|1||Felipe Nasr||Carlin||British Formula 3||95|
|2||Javier Morcillo||Azteca Motorsport||British Endurance||83.33|
|3||Matt Bell||United Autosports||British GT||76.67|
|4||Michael Guasch||United Autosports||British GT||76.67|
|5||Keith Robinson||MJC||British Endurance||68.33|
|6||Sean McInerney||Eclipse Motorsport||British Endurance||66.67|
|7||Michael McInerney||Eclipse Motorsport||British Endurance||66.67|
|8||Jay Shepherd||Hawthorns Motorsport||British Endurance||63.17|
|9||Morgan Jones||Eurotech||British Endurance||59.83|
|10||Gareth Jones||Eurotech||British Endurance||59.83|
British F3 Race One – Outside Bet: Magnussen Passes Nasr
British F3 Race Three – Magnussen Takes Second Win
British GT Championship – United Autosports Win Frenetic Race
British Endurance Championship – Eclipse Motorsport Overcome Damage