Two more weeks of racing have left Felipe Nasr to consolidate his lead in the Sunoco Daytona Challenge, capitalising on a Britcar British Endurance Championship race held in treacherous conditions at Thruxton and an early retirement from leaders of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Brands Hatch.
However, as some drivers' challenges fall away Marcus Clutton has emerged as a contender for the Challenge after he and Peter Belshaw scored a third GT4 class win of the season in the two hour British GT race.
Another man to move up after the latest races was Formula Three man Lucas Foresti. The Brazilian ran a tactical race in the weekend's opener as he preserved his wet weather Copper tyres for the full race, while all other pitted around him. Though Nasr mercilessly chased him down in the closing laps, some four seconds faster around Brands Hatch's Grand Prix layout it was the Fortec Motorsport man who held on for his third win of the season so far.
Places were reversed for the third and final F3 race of the weekend. Nasr took the lead early on from his Carlin teammate Rupert Svendsen-Cook, who settled into second and a battle with Pietro Fantin.
Foresti meanwhile had fallen back to fifth after running wide through the gravel at Clearways. After the early exit of Adderly Fong, who had shocked everyone by starting second, Foresti was gaining on the second place battle when Svendsen-Cook and Fantin tangled at Paddock Hill Bend. Foresti was promoted to second, while Fantin tumbled back to tenth.
Svendsen-Cook was forced to retire bringing a good weekend from the Suffolk based racer to a lacklustre end. However, he still banked Challenge points for Pole Position in both races and for his third place in Saturday's race one.
British GT victory went to Gregor Fisken and Tim Bridgman ahead of a fleet of Ferrari, the MTECH run 458 GT3 with Matt Griffin chasing down the Trackspeed Porsche in the lead for the closing stint of the race. CRS Racing's father and son pairing of Jim and Glynn Geddie completed the podium, ahead of Hector Lester and Allan Simonsen's older Ferrari 430 Scuderia and Oulton Park winners Scuderia Vittoria.
The premier GT3 class' only representatives in the top ten in the Sunoco Daytona Challenge – Matt Bell and Michael Guasch for United Autosports – followed up their dramatic Snetterton win with an early retirement in the Druids Hairpin gravel trap – Guasch one of several drivers caught out by thr tricky conditions.
Clutton and Belshaw beat a GT4 class swollen by the addiction of two Aston Martin Vantages for the weekend, and changes in the balance of performance. However, the ABG Motorsports squad only won the class on the final corner of the race when David MacDonald put his Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta G50 into the clearways gravel trap, letting Clutton past to add to his win tally. Clutton moves up to third in the Challenge standing, ahead of Belshaw in ninth by virtue of fastest laps and pole positions.
Britcar racer Javier Morcillo still lies second despite a disappointing weekend for his Azteca Motorsport team at Thruxton. With co-driver Manual Cintrano at the wheel the polesitting Mosler span off at the very first corner on a soaked Hampshire track. Though the car was able to continue and the team pitted early to give Morcillo a chance to make up ground the Spaniard was unable to make an impression on Calum Lockie in the Strata 21 Mosler who won the race, which was shortened to just an hour in the face of torrential rain. Though still outside the top ten the victory moved Lockie up ten places in the Challenge points to 18th.
He, and the rest of the Britcar field will next race in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium for a 100 minute race at the legendary Grand Prix track.
However, the Sunoco Daytona Challenge appears to be over for MJC driver Keith Robinson. After establishing himself as a front runner with strong runs in the opening rounds of the Britcar season, their engine failure at Donington forcing the team to scale back their plans for the season, now concentrating on retaining the Britcar 24 Hours title.
Sunoco Daytona Challenge Points as of June 20
|1||Felipe Nasr||Carlin||British Formula 3||93.13|
|2||Javier Morcillo||Azteca Motorsport||British Endurance||72.50|
|3||Marcus Clutton||ABG Motorsport||British GT||68.75|
|4||Lucas Foresti||Fortec Motorsport||British Formula 3||63.75|
|5||Matt Bell||United Autosports||British GT||57.50|
|6||Michael Guasch||United Autosports||British GT||57.50|
|7||Sean McInerney||Eclipse Motorsport||British Endurance||54.38|
|8||Michael McInerney||Eclipse Motorsport||British Endurance||54.38|
|9||Peter Belshaw||ABG Motorsport||British GT||53.75|
|10||Keith Robinson||MJC||British Endurance||51.25|