Johnathan Hoggard was a standout performer at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, as the 19-year-old set his team’s fastest lap of the race on his endurance racing debut.
Racing with Precision Performance Motorsport, the BRDC British F3 runner-up enjoyed a competitive running at the world-famous event, at one stage running inside the top six in class, before being forced to retire four hours away from the finish after suffering a broken gearbox.
Hoggard, competing thanks to winning the 2019 Sunoco Whelen Challenge, had a trickier than expected built-up to the event after being forced to switch teams when Rick Ware Racing squad withdrew its Multimatic Riley LMP2 car from the event - the car Hoggard had driven at the ROAR Before the 24 official tests. Hoggard subsequently joined the Precision Performance Motorsport team in the GT Daytona division, driving a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 machine.
Hoggard got his first taste of his new car during Thursday’s free practice session, and the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award winner showed his versatility when adapting to new machinery as he quickly got up to speed with his new team, car and teammates.
The team’s regular driver Brandon Gdovic qualified the car in 14th place in class, and was the team’s elected start driver for the race, which commenced on Saturday. Hoggard’s first race stint came less than an hour into the endurance epic, and was tasked with a double stint, where he moved the car up into sixth place in class, before handing the car over to Mark Kvamme. Hoggard’s pace was all the more impressive after it was revealed he’d suffered a knee injury while practicing a driver change on Friday, which resulted in him having to right foot brake during the race.
With Eric Lux behind the wheel, the car sustained heavy damage when it was hit from behind by the 98 Aston Martin whilst entering the pits during the sixth hour of running. With a large part of the Aston Martin lodged in the Lamborghini’s rear suspension, a lengthy pit stop was needed to repair the damage, with the car re-joining four laps down and with the right side of the diffuser missing, severely affecting the car’s aerodynamics. This didn’t hamper Hoggard though, who re-joined the race at 9pm and recorded the team’s fastest lap of the event, a 1m46.660s.
Strong race pace thereafter, combined with excellent strategy, helped the team regain a lap but the car ground to a halt after 608 laps with Hoggard behind the wheel during the closing stages of his third double stint. The team investigated the problem in the garage and quickly diagnosed that the gearbox was the issue and were forced to retire the car with four hours of the race remaining.
Hoggard said: “I was very excited to come to the ROAR, unfortunately it didn’t really go to plan and there was a last-minute switch to the PPM Lamborghini for the race. We started off well, but I had a knee injury which put another spanner in the works, which meant we had to figure out a new way to do driver changes and then I also had to learn to right foot brake.
“Overall, it’s not the result the team wanted or deserved. It has been a great experience, racing during the night-time is mega, I’ve really enjoyed it. I need to say a massive thank you to Whelen and Anglo American Oil Company for giving me this opportunity, it has been great.”
Anders Hildebrand, Managing Director of the Anglo American Oil Company commented: “At the ROAR we were in the LMP2 car but the pro driver had an accident, and the bronze driver left, so we tried to find a quick bronze driver with some money but we couldn’t, so we then went to PPM who ran Linus Lundqvist last year and they had a seat available for Johnathan. Of course, they knew the performance of our winners, so they said ‘yeah, we want him!’
“We were running tenth, unfortunately we lost a number of laps due to the shunt with the Aston Martin. That said, the lap times Johnathan was able to put in, despite all this damage, was just fantastic. He’s a very special driver and it’s just amazing to be involved at such an early stage with these guys.”
British F3 contenders will again be eligible for the Sunoco Whelen Challenge in 2020. For more information, visit the official challenge website here.
Image credit Sunoco.
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