Phil Keen star driver of weekend, but reigning Challenge champ Derek Johnston also hot stuff.
If Derek Johnston had been registered in the current Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge, his placings – second in Race 1 and pole, fastest lap and first place in Race 2 – last weekend would have earned him 107.5* points.
Not since the Spartans’ laconic reply of “If” to Philip II of Macedon’s threat has such a small phrase carried such meaning.
The bitter irony is Johnston is not registered because he is the reigning Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge champ and is therefore ineligible. His experience racing in the Rolex 24 At Daytona put him not just on a par, but head and shoulders above most other drivers at the stunning Northampton circuit.
His performance in the brace of races also proved him worthy of his Sunoco Daytona Challenge title. Long will aficionados of the noble art of racing argue whether Johnston’s puncture cost him first place in Race 1, but with a mere 0.234 seconds separating him from first-placed Phil Keen, anything is possible.
Line honours in the 2011 Sunoco Daytona Challenge among the Radicals – racing in the Competition Car Insurance Radical UK Cup – at Rockingham went instead to Moore Racing’s Keen with 77.5 points with Ross Kaiser, driving for 360 Racing, just ten behind at 67.5.
Points are, of course, only part of the story. Like the kill marks on fighter aircraft, they do not tell of the titanic battle between the chaps – and in too few cases the chappesses – on the track.
The weaving, wending and cutting one’s way through the traffic, the terrific forces one’s body and mind are subjected to, the heat and the fatigue, the disappointment and the elation are known only by the gallants on the tarmac, the knights in their shining steeds, bedecked with sponsors’ logos in place of heraldic crests.
Kaiser, so say those privileged enough to see, drove blisteringly well to deliver a Race 1 fastest lap of 1:16.434. Keen’s drive in Race 2 also belies the effort put in to go from back of the grid to third place.
There are many miles to be driven before the new Sunoco Rolex 24 At Daytona Challenge champ is crowned. The title is still wide open.