DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- England's Ross Kaiser is the winner of the 2011 Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge, clinching a driver's seat in a Daytona Prototype for the 49th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 29-30 -- the season-opening event to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.
Kaiser scored 107.50 average points per race en route to winning the Radical UK Cup. British F3 champion Jean- Eric Vergne entered last weekend eligible for the prize, needing to virtually sweep both races, qualifying and fastest race laps. However, Vergne was unable to pull off that feat in the ultracompetitive British F3 event.
“I'm absolutely exhilarated," Kaiser said. "It's a fantastic opportunity and I'm looking forward to it.”
Kaiser already ran a few laps in a Daytona Prototype at Silverstone, and will next test the No. 39 Porsche Crawford at the British circuit in October.
“I ran a few laps in the DP during a track day and got a taste of what it's like,” Kaiser said. "But it was on a track day and we had to observe strict noise rules and had to keep the revs down. I was able to get a feel for the car, but not in its full glory. I'm really excited to be able to go back and test it."
Derek Johnston, the inaugural winner of the Sunoco Daytona Challenge, was with Kaiser at a race meeting on Saturday.
"Derek is my teammate on 360 Racing, and he keeps me up to date on the Sunoco Daytona Challenge," Kaiser said. "He told me it would blow my mind. I'm very happy and excited - I can't wait."
The 2011 Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge prize consists of:
• Three full test days in the UK with the #39 Daytona Prototype
• Three full test days at Daytona (Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona)
• A race seat in one of the top teams at the 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona
Kaiser, originally from Ascot but lives in Bracknell where he makes a living from instructing and driver coaching, sees the win of Sunoco Daytona Challenge as a massive break in his career.
“I’m delighted to win the Sunoco Daytona Challenge," Kaiser said. "It’s absolutely massive. I’ve worked really hard to build my racing career. I instruct, driver coach and race with Terrance Woodward, but it can be a struggle to get by particularly through the winter. To have the chance to race at one of greatest endurance races in the world with one of the top teams is a fantastic opportunity which I hope will enable me to move on to a professional racing career.
“You couldn’t dream of a better prize and it is a fantastic opportunity for any upcoming driver. A lot of effort goes into the challenge by the Sunoco team, even the way the points are worked out. Without doubt, this is a once in a life time opportunity that just wouldn’t be possible without Sunoco and Daytona.”
Tickets for the Rolex 24 At Daytona are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.