Denver, N.C. (30 October 2017) – After winning the British GT4 Championship earlier this season, Stuart Middleton earned another title this weekend as he was confirmed as the winner of the Sunoco Whelen Challenge. Middleton will now set his sights on preparations for the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona with Whelen Engineering Racing.
The incredible opportunity sees the Northumberland (United Kingdom) racer paired with three superstar co-drivers in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R during the twice-around-the-clock enduro. Ex-Formula 1 driver Felipe Nasr is also a former Sunoco Whelen Challenge champion and will share the driving duties with 2016 IMSA WeatherTech champion Eric Curran as well as former IndyCar winner and current World Endurance Championship pilot Mike Conway.
Middleton’s success was built on a standout British GT4 campaign alongside HHC Motorsport co-driver Will Tregurtha. The duo had a record-breaking season, and were elevated to BRDC Rising Star status.
“I’m ecstatic, speechless to be honest,” offered Middleton. “This is such a huge prize and an incredible opportunity for me. I can’t thank Anders Hildebrand and everyone at Anglo-American Oil enough. Being part of the Whelen Engineering team with Felipe (Nasr), Mike (Conway) and Eric (Curran) is just amazing… it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”
The 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona is already anticipated to be a classic with confirmed entries featuring some of the world’s top talent.
“My GT4 season with my fantastic teammate Will Tregurtha was just amazing, and for me to now win the Sunoco Whelen Challenge is the icing on the cake.” said Middleton. “I really want to grab this chance with both hands and do the very best I can, although it’s not going to be easy. This is a huge step-up for me in one of the biggest and most demanding races in the world with some of the very best drivers and teams on the planet. It’s going to be amazing driving at Daytona too, something I never realistically thought might happen in my career – this is such a special moment for me and I’m absolutely delighted.”
The combination of Action Express Racing, Cadillac and a talented driver crew offers Middleton a great opportunity for a strong result. Last year’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner Seb Morris led the race aboard the same car before issues stymied the team’s progress, while Nasr’s third place finish in 2012 remains the best result in the competition’s nine-year history.
“Giving drivers like Stuart (Middleton) an incredible opportunity is exactly what the Sunoco Whelen Challenge is all about!” said Anders Hildebrand, Anglo American Oil Company Ltd Managing Director. “12 months ago, the chance to compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona would have been unthinkable for Stuart. But here he is, on the cusp of competing in one of the world’s most famous endurance events aboard a car and alongside drivers that have a genuine chance of success. It’s incredible. I also think having Felipe (Nasr) in the team will be a huge benefit to Stuart, who is our youngest winner since Felipe claimed the 2012 title. I can’t wait to see how he compares against a very quick and seasoned sports car racing line-up.”
The Sunoco Whelen shoot out is now in its ninth season, with the champion driving the No. 31 Whelen entry every year since 2014. The Sunoco Challenges provide an accurate assessment and comparison of performances across multiple championships during any given season. Points are awarded for qualifying and race results, including fastest lap, which are then converted into an individual average score for each competing driver over the course of a full campaign.
Middleton will follow in the steps of previous Sunoco Whelen Challenge winners Seb Morris (2017), Jonny Adam (2016), Phil Keen (2015), and Bradley Smith (2014) who have raced the Whelen entry in the Daytona classic.
Additional information is available via @sunoco_uk as well as http://www.sunocochallenge.com.