Reigning British F3 champion Linus Lundqvist is set to join Precision Performance Motorsports’ Lamborghini Huracan GTD effort for the 2019 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, a prize drive after the Swede won the points chase to take the 2019 Sunoco Whelen Challenge, a joint venture between Whelen Engineering and AAOC, UK distributors for Sunoco Racing Fuels.
Lundqvist’s PPM drive marks a shift in emphasis for the prize winner away from the premium Prototype class with all of the past winners racing in first Daytona Prototype and more recently DPi machinery.
For 2019, Lundqvist sees the prize drive in the GTD Pro-Am category aboard PPM’s new Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.
“I am really excited to have everything confirmed; I can’t wait to get on that plane and fly across the Atlantic to race in the States for the first time,” said Lundqvist.
“It’s going to be a real adventure. I’m super happy to be given the trust and opportunity to drive the Lamborghini GT3 Evo for Precision Performance Motorsports at Daytona! It will be a lot to learn considering it will be my first endurance race but I’m going to do my best and try to learn and enjoy it as much as possible.”
“Having a talented young driver like Linus join our Rolex 24 driver line-up is a massive win for PPM and complements our focus on driver development, and of course it’s an honour to campaign the long-standing Sunoco Whelen Challenge program,” said Precision Performance Motorsport team manager Sunny Voelker.
The decision to bring Lundqvist to PPM marks a shift in class for the Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner.
“For the last four years, thanks to support from Sonny Whelen of Whelen Engineering, we have been placing the Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner in the No.31 Whelen-sponsored Action Express run Cadillac DPi race car,” said AAOC managing director Anders Hildebrand.
“However, with the increasing level of competitiveness in the top class we feel that the pressure imposed on our winner will take out the enjoyment of this, maybe once in a lifetime experience. Sonny and I therefore decided for 2019 that we should place our winner in the GTD (GT3) class which has a mix of PRO and AM drivers and a class that would really make our Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner shine.”
The Sunoco Whelen Challenge is in its 10th season, conceived to help raise the international profile of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, with a unique prize on offer to drivers in UK National competition that has given a range of talented Pro and Gentlemen drivers the opportunity to gain a free seat in the IMSA season opener in a car with real potential for success.
It has attracted real talent, with past winners including current Aston Martin works driver Jonny Adam, current Lamborghini Squadra Corse factory man Phil Keen, and former F1/current IMSA DPI driver Felipe Nasr.
“When the first Sunoco Daytona Challenge was put together it was thanks to the support of Jim France who wanted to increase the international awareness of the Rolex 24 At Daytona,” Hildebrand said.
“Today, ten years later it seems ridiculous that the Rolex 24 star-packed grid has not always been a massive international race on the bucket list of every racing driver.
“The Sunoco Daytona and Whelen Challenge winners have brought talent, speed and excitement to the race and not disappointed the teams they raced for. 2018 Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Stuart Middleton bettered Felipe Nasr’s Challenge winners’ previous third place record by taking the checkered flag in second overall — quite a feat!