Double British national award winner Johnathan Hoggard says that he has “adapted quite quickly” from single-seater to LMP2 machinery for his Sunoco Whelen Challenge prize drive in the Rolex 24 at Daytona this month.
Last year, the 19-year-old British F3 runner-up became the first driver to win both the Sunoco Whelen competition and the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award.
In addition to his Rolex 24 debut, Hoggard will get to test an Aston Martin Vantage GTE as part of the BRDC purse which also includes a try-out in a Red Bull F1 car and a £200,000 ($260,000) prize pot.
Following his first set of laps behind the wheel of the Rick Ware Racing Riley Mk. 30 Gibson during the recent Roar Before the Rolex 24 test, Hoggard told Sportscar365 that he felt confident behind the wheel of the LMP2.
“In the Autosport BRDC assessment I got to drive the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and a Ligier LMP3,” he said.
“Even though I was only driving for a short amount of time, I think I adapted to it quite quickly, so it wasn’t too different coming over to Daytona and getting in an LMP2.
“I think it’s still quite different being enclosed in the cockpit with a roof over your head. The visibility as well… the pillars on either side make it quite hard to see out of the car.
“The different powered cars were quite a challenge. The GTs are a little bit slower but the DPis come right at you.
“It’s my first time having a spotter on the radio so it’s quite useful having someone telling you what’s happening on the track and who’s around you.
“It’s not been too bad so far, but with a 24-hour race I can imagine it can get quite crazy.”
Hoggard explained that the has been receiving advice from more experienced members of the IMSA paddock about how to approach his endurance race debut.
“Quite a lot of people have come up to me and told me not to go out too aggressively,” he said
“It’s better to lose a bit of time rather than try to gain it all straight away, so you’re probably better off being safe than sorry. That’s the main theme coming from the advice I’ve had.
“We’ve got a pretty good driver lineup, but with it being my first endurance race I just want to get to the end.
“I think we can work on expectations and where we want to finish once we get into qualifying.”
Hoggard described winning both the Sunoco Whelen and BRDC awards as a key step in launching his professional racing career.
The teenager graduated from karting into a partial-season British F4 drive with Fortec Motorsports for 2017 which led to a full season with the renowned open-wheel outfit the following year.
In thatcampaign, Hoggard achieved eight race wins and finished third in the drivers’ standings which led to his step up to British F3 with Fortec.
Previous winners of the Sunoco Whelen Challenge include Jonny Adam, Seb Morris and Felipe Nasr, while the BRDC award has produced the likes of Lando Norris, George Russell and Oliver Rowland in recent years.
“It’s really important because there are a lot of big names that have won the prizes beforehand,” said Hoggard.
“It’s really quite special and I think people respect you for it as well. Having that on my CV definitely helps.
“My first full season in cars was in 2018, so I think I’m still deciding what to do this year.
“Having the BRDC award and the Sunoco Whelen Challenge helps to get my profile out there more, so we’ll see what comes of it.”