The race to take a place on the grid for the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona begun in Portugal last weekend with the Radical Masters EuroSeries kicking off the 2014 Sunoco Rolex 24 at Daytona Challenge.
The Radical series – the brand rejoining the Sunoco Challenge field after the UK Series delivered the first two winners of the Sunoco Challenge – begun with a pair of races on the Portimao track, with the winner being guaranteed at least the temporary lead in the Challenge standings.
The man who took full advantage of the opportunity was former British Formula Three driver Victor Correa. The Brazilian claimed pole position overall, and in the SR8 class, for both races by a handsome margin – 1.3 seconds than anyone else for the first race ‘just’ 0.7 faster in the second session.
He continued his dominant start to the year with a lights-to-flag victory in race one, crossing the finish line nearly 40 seconds ahead of the second placed car shared by Terrence Woodward and 2011 Challenge winner Ross Kaiser.
Correa added the 20 points for fastest lap in the second race. However, could only finish third in a race conducted on a drying track. Correa and his Marks Electrical team gambled on the track drying quickly in opting for slicks to start the race, but their choice proved costly at the first hairpin on the opening lap as Correa spun, falling nearly a lap behind before fighting back onto the podium with a pass on Bassam Kronfli to take third place in a race won by his Marks Electrical teammates Tony Wells and James Littlejohn.
Driving a Radical SR3 James Abbott dominated the Supersports class by taking two wins and two pole positions away from the weekend. His Challenge standing, however, was hurt by the low car count in the class meaning he was only entitled to a percentage of the points his strong results could have earned.
The next Sunoco Daytona Challenge weekend is the SPEED Euroseries’ opening weekend at Monza on March 23-24.