BRDC British F3 champion Linus Lundqvist put in a superb performance on his endurance racing debut in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona this weekend.
At the wheel of the #47 Precision Performance Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan, his prize drive for winning the 2018 Sunoco Whelen Challenge, he was among the fastest in his class (GTD) during his stints on track, in one of the most eventful Daytona 24 Hour contests of recent years.
He was the second driver to take charge of the car during the race, taking to the wheel after Don Yount had started proceedings. Once strapped in he put in an excellent showing, regularly topping the timsheets of the GTD class in his first stint while also sharing the track with motorsport legends including Fernando Alonso, Alex Zanardi and Helio Castroneves.
After a stint of one hour and 52 minutes, easily his longest period of continuous driving in his motorsport career so far (and more than five times the length of a British F3 race), he returned to the pits as dusk fell to hand the car over to Steve Dunn, having moved his car up several positions and set the car's outright fastest lap of the meeting.
Lundqvist was due back in the car in the 11th hour of the race but the programme was severely delayed when the car, now driven by Milos Pavlovic, was hit by the #51 Ferrari. The Ferrari was handed a drive through penalty as the Lamborghini continued, though not for long as damage from the incident forced Pavlovic to stop on circuit shortly afterwards. The car returned to the pits and remained there for three and a half hours while the clutch was changed, eventually rejoining with Yount back at the wheel.
Lundqvist's next stint in the car saw further drama as heavy rain brought out a full course yellow, before conditions were deemed impossible, with the red flags shown with just over seven hours remaining.
The Swede remained in the car when the race resumed only for the full course yellows to show again when a trio of cars collided on the restart.
With heavy rain then set in for the vast majority of the remainder of the race, very little genuine racing occurred in the final quarter of the event, and when it did, there was normally plenty of incident, with several shunts occuring due to the conditions.
The rain failed to relent, and the race was red flagged for a second time with just under two hours remaining on the clock, the first time the event has been red-flagged twice in its 57-year history. With continuous rain there was no opportunity to restart the race, and the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac Daytona Prototype machine of Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi, Renger van der Zande and Jordan Taylor claimed the overall win, with Lundqvist's Precision Performance Motorsport squad placed 20th in the GTD class.
Lundqvist commented: "I'm happy with my performance here in Daytona this week, and it's been a very interesting experience. It was all so new to me, but I'm pleased with how I handled it and I think the guys on the team are happy too. I was curious to find out how I'd cope with the longer double stints, but I managed to set some consistent, strong lap times throughout and that's exactly what we were looking for.
"Driving in the rain out there was extremely difficult. We were just aquaplaning everywhere, even behind the safety car, and I had some very close calls myself. I'm just glad I kept the car in one piece - we had a couple of dangerous moments out there. It's probably the most challenging conditions I've ever driven in.
"We didn't get the result we wanted, but all in all I'm really happy to have been given this opportunity by PPM and Sunoco. It was such a versatile experience; I drove at night, during the day, in the dry, in the wet. There were Full Course Yellow situations, driver changes, traffic, fuel management... I've learned so much and I've certainly enjoyed it. I'd love to do more of this in the future and I appreciate this chance a lot."
Main image credit Jakob Ebrey Photography, below images Mattias Persson/Motorsport Publication
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