The Sunoco Rolex 24 Challenge at Daytona will return for a fourth season, offering drivers a chance to win a Daytona Prototype drive at next January's Rolex 24.
For this year the Challenge undergoes some changes, with a new scoring system and new series eligible for the prize. The SPEED EuroSeries has re-joined the portfolio of championships supplied by Sunoco race fuels' parent company, Anglo American Oil.
The series was part of the first Sunoco Challenge in 2009, with Rob Garofall falling just shy of taking the prize, though he has since gone on to drive in the Le Mans Series for Team RLR.
“We're very excited to have been asked to supply the SPEED EuroSeries with Sunoco race fuels for the 2012 season,” said Anglo American Oil Company MD Anders Hildebrand. “SPEED is recognised as the premier CN sports prototype series and we are really excited to again include them in the Sunoco Rolex 24 at Daytona Challenge. The performance of the SPEED Sports Prototypes is exhilarating so should a SPEED racer win the Sunoco Daytona Challenge he or she will be well prepared for the Rolex 24.”
However, for the first time since the Challenge began drivers in the British F3 and British GT Championship will not be eligible for the Daytona drive, following the two series' switch in fuel supplier to WP Motorsport, confirmed this week.
Remaining with Sunoco, and part of the Rolex 24 at Daytona Challenge for the second consecutive season is the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship (BEC).
Spaniard Javier Morcillo finished third in the challenge last season – largely down to reliability problems with his Azteca Motorsport Mosler. He has already confirmed his intentions to contest the full season, and is aiming for victory in the Sunoco Challenge as part of successful 2012, spurred on by visiting Daytona International Speedway for the Rolex 24 at the end of January.
“It's a big part of my season,” said Morcillo. “After visiting the Daytona race in January and seeing what Felipe won – winning the Challenge will be my first thought every morning! Achieving that will be very difficult, as you have to get a perfect season to be able to win it, have the best car, the best team and the best of luck, so it's got to be one of the toughest prizes ever. I was third in 2011 and it's not crazy to dream of winning it this year. I can guarantee that I'll give my 100% towards that dream!”
BEC Class One and Two competitors will be entered into the Sunoco Rolex 24 at Daytona Challenge – each class scored separately, while Class Three and Four runners will go into the sister Sunoco Grand-Am 200 Challenge, which will be back for a second season after a successful inaugural year in 2011.
“We are delighted to again have Britcar Endurance as part of the Sunoco Daytona Challenge,” said Hildebrand. “Last year Javier Morcillo had a taste of success before car gremlins halted his march towards Daytona and although he had to pay for his own ticket to get there – I could see how intoxicated he became by the Daytona atmosphere. I wish all Britcar racers good luck this year and who knows Javier or one of the other fast Britcar boys will sit next to me on the Virgin flight to Daytona.”
A new scoring system for 2012 seeks to keep the standings as close as possible with a race win worth 100 but the points for second place upped to 85. The 20 points on offer for pole position and fastest lap remain.
The first run of the BEC is at Silverstone on March 24, the SPEED EuroSeries begins a week later at Paul Ricard.