Aaron Steele Seals Sunoco Grand-Am 200 Challenge

by James Broomhead
Aaron Steele (Photo Credit: Mike Lambert/Gridshots.com)

Aaron Steele (Photo Credit: Mike Lambert/Gridshots.com)

Another double winning weekend for Aaron Steele clinched the Sunoco GrandAm 200 Challenge, securing a drive of a lifetime at Daytona International Speedway for the Kent based driver.

The decisive weekend took place on the Silverstone GP circuit, on Steele's first visit to the track – which led to some interesting moments early in the weekend; “It was a bit of an adventure attacking the circuit having not previously tested there,” said Steele, “finding some unexpected bumps certainly caused some exciting moments.”

There were further adventures in the early laps of the weekend's first race – held on Friday. The unseasonal heat caused the clutch start slipping on his Grays Motorsport F3 car, making for slow start that saw Steele slip down to fourth through the opening corners.

It was not long however, before Steele retook his normal position at the front of the packleading unchallenged until the checkered flag, despite a brief safety car period.

The victory, along with the pole position was enough to secure the Grand-Am 200 Challenge prize – a drive in the Continental Series race at Daytona in January, supporting the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Steele said; “when I got back to the pits I was greeted by the team holding up 'Sunoco Grand-Am 200 Challenge Winner 2011' signs, everyone was elated and it was a great moment for me and the team.”

“It's really great to finally not have to worry about losing out on such a great prize due to an unexpected retirement or similar. Now I can just relax and look forward to the Grand-AM 200 event in January.”

With the pressure off, and assured of his race winning pace by the first contest of the weekend, Steele started the second MSV F3 Cup race from off the front row of the grid, after traffic prevented him from getting a second clear lap in qualifying.

Once more the heat caused the clutch to slip and prevented Steele from moving forward during the opening laps. However, as in the first race once the clutch cooled down the battle for the lead heated up, the fight with Chris Needham almost going wrong for Steele when he ran wide through the Arena section.

Happily only a handful of corners later Steele put a superior run down the Wellington Straight to good use to take the lead, extending his advantage to ten seconds by the end of the race.

Steele's thoughts are, however, already in Florida.

“A great weekend sealing the Sunoco Grand-Am 200 challenge. Now I am going to be on the Playstation racing Daytona and watching hours of YouTube videos constantly until the end of January. When I get there I should know it quite well and be able to attack it from the off!”

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