Two more Speed EuroSeries wins – his sixth and seventh of the season – left Ivan Bellarosa all but assured of victory in the Sunoco Rolex 24 at Daytona Challenge.
The Italian came up against strong opposition in the European Le Mans Series supporting races at Donington Park, having to be satisfied with pole position for just one of the races as the Juno driving partnership of Duncan Williams and Darren Burke secured the top spot for the second race of the weekend.
Despite this, from second on the grid, it was Burke who leapt ahead of Bellarosa at the start of the 90 minute race on Saturday, pulling away from Bellarosa before the Italian made his mandatory pitstop shortly after the 30 minute mark.
After Burke made his own stop just before two-thirds distance Williams returned to the track, still with a 14 second lead over Bellarosa, whose early stop had failed to bring him much advantage over the Burke and Williams’ Team Excool car.
But, with a sense of nagging inevitability Bellarosa closed on the lead and, just eight laps into Williams’ stint Bellarosa took the lead, Williams attentively following across the line four seconds adrift.
After coming so close to beating Bellarosa on Saturday pole position for Sunday seemed like a perfect springboard of a victory in the shorter of the meeting’s races at just a hour long. However, a spin at the Melbourne Hairpin by Williams on lap one quickly ended any ambitions he and Burke may have had on victory, their race eventually ending with alternator failure, leaving the two driver in fourth (Burke) and eighth (Williams) in the Sunoco Challenge standings.
Second place in the Challenge standings behind Bellarosa, so often Burke’s place this season, is now filled Anthony Gandon. The Team TFT driver was also Bellarosa’s closest rival in the second race, pushing his all the way, trailing by just two seconds at the drop of the checkered flag. Gugliemli Belotti completed the race two podium, as he had in race one, and now lies third in Sunoco Challenge, albeit 70 points behind Bellarosa.
Javier Morcillo – fifth in the challenge points – is the best driver representing the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship (BEC), also in action last weekend, with a two hour race on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit.
Arguably the star of the BEC was Andy Schulz, the Ferrari driver scoring pole position by virtue of an early flying lap before a rain shower prevented much improvement amongst the top teams.
Schulz and co-driver Paul Bailey are still looking for their first win of the season and, after an early stop under for Bailey to hand over the car to Schulz and a pair of safety car interventions, the pair appeared to be on track for the top step on the podium, the Schulz continued to battle an ill-handling car in the first and third sectors of the lap.
Morcillo closed in, the Spaniard’s Mosler clearly the faster car around the track’s slower sections. Finally, with minutes of the race remaining, Morcillo aimed the nose of his Mosler up the inside of Schulz’s Ferrari at Druids, Schulz’s late attempts to shut the door only succeeding in tipping the Ferrari into a spin that would leave him down in second place.
The next Sunoco Challenge action will be provided by the BEC, as Morcillo, Schulz and the other eligible drivers have their final chance to bank points for the 2013 Sunoco Rolex 24 at Daytona Challenge at Snetterton on August 19.