The quest for a race seat at the 2016 Daytona 24 Hours is now underway, as the Sunoco Challenge gears up for another season.
With backing from the Anglo-American Oil Company and Whelen Engineering, the Sunoco Whelen Challenge pits some of the top national drivers from series including British GT3, Britcar Class 1 and Radical Enduro against each other in order to produce the worthy winner of a Daytona 24 Hours race seat, provided by Daytona Prototype squad Action Express Racing.
Points are compiled as an average score, meaning that drivers in shorter championships can still accumulate more points than those in longer ones. An extra 20 points will be awarded for pole position and fastest lap, while in races featuring less than 10 cars the driver’s score is taken as a percentage of the number of entries.
Brothers Edward and Harry Cockill emerged as the early points leaders after winning the second Radical Enduro Series race at Snetterton. However, the opening round of the British GT Championship this weekend (April 4) will introduce those drivers to the standings, meaning that last weekend’s results are far from definitive.
Working in a similar way, the Sunoco 200 Challenge features national drivers from a variety of championships, the most prominent being British GT4, GT Cup, Britcar Endurance classes 2, 3 and 4, and the Radical Sprint Championship. Like the Whelen Challenge, drivers will accumulate an average points score to determine their place in the standings, regardless of season length. The winner will be offered a race seat in a Chevrolet Camaro for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge 200 mile race that serves as support for the Daytona 24 Hours.
Patrick McClughan leads the Sunoco 200 Challenge after a dominant weekend in the Radical Sprint Series, although like his fellow Enduro series drivers his position at the top is subject to change as the remaining qualifying series begin, with British GT4 and the F3 Cup kicking off at Oulton Park on Saturday. Once all the affiliated championships have been set in motion, the Sunoco Challenge will have around 200 drivers taking part in its two separate series.
Last year’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner was Phil Keen, who made full advantage of his Daytona 24 Hours race seat by helping Action Express Racing to a sixth place finish. Meanwhile, Radical racer Oscar Krüger was able to get behind the wheel of a Grand Sport class Chevrolet Camaro at the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge opener after winning the Sunoco 200 Challenge.
This year’s prizes include flights and accommodation in Florida, as well as the paid-for race seat. The winner will also get the chance to participate in the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test, in order to acclimatise to the demands of handling a V8 Daytona Prototype on the circuit’s daunting 31 degree banking.