DERBY, England - This past Saturday morning, the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 drivers qualified for the weekend's racing at Donington Park and newly crowned British Formula 3 Champion Felipe Nasr set pole position with a time of 1:23.012 and in doing so clinched the Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge after gaining 20 points.
Nasr went into this race weekend needing just 12 points to win the Sunoco Daytona Challenge. The qualifying session was close with Racing Steps Foundation driver Jack Harvey fighting hard for the top spot but Nasr bounced back and went faster by 0.064 seconds.
The Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge is now in its third year, and in previous years, a Formula 3 driver was knocked out at the last minute. The inaugural challenge saw 2009 British Formula 3 champion Daniel Ricciardo miss out on the Daytona drive by just two points; last year saw the 2010 British Formula 3 champion, Jean-Eric Vergne, also finish runner up by just over 10 points. However, this year the newly crowned 2011 Cooper Tires Formula 3 Champion Felipe Nasr has become the first British Formula 3 racer to win the Sunoco Daytona Challenge and a race seat in a Daytona Prototype with a top team in the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29.
Nasr is originally from Brazil. Despite only having four years car racing experience Nasr has an impressive racing resume; starting in Formula BMW where he competed for 2 years until moving up into the British Formula 3. Felipe finished fifth overall in the British F3 last year and this year was back to take the title - claiming the championship win with 2 rounds to go and a lead of 123 points.
"Its such a great feeling - winning the championship three weeks ago was amazing and this is definitely up there with that, Nasr said. "I want to thank everyone for this opportunity; it's a big thing for me and is a massive mark in my career. I will be taking it very seriously and I will take it forward and do my very best. I can't wait to get stuck in."
Said Anders Hildebrand of the Anglo American Oil Company: "From the start of the Sunoco Daytona Challenge the feeling amongst F3 drivers has been that they will not be able to win due to the fierce competition, within the class, resulting in that F3 drivers are ‘stealing' points from each other. However, Daniel Ricciardo in 2009 and Jean-Eric Vergne in 2010 came very close to winning the most wanted race seat but lost out at their last race. Now it's third time lucky and we are delighted that we will have the current British F3 Champion, Felipe Nasr, racing in the 50th anniversary of the famous endurance race against stars such as Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti and Jimmie Johnson.....what an experience!"
Said Mark Raffauf, GRAND-AM Managing Director of Competition: "GRAND-AM would like to congratulate Felipe on winning the British Formula 3 championship and the Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge. Our first two winners of the Challenge came from the Radical series, and did an excellent job. Now, having a driver with an outstanding resume from an open-wheel series is going to add additional excitement at the historic 50th Rolex 24 At Daytona."
The 2012 Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge consists of:
- 2 full days testing at Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
- 2 days testing at Daytona in December
- 3 days testing at the ‘Roar Before The Rolex 24' in Daytona
- A race seat in a top team at the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona with pre-race testing included.
The first test session will be at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., on October 17-18.
Tickets for the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.