Good news from the world of the Australian MINI CHALLENGE today with confirmation of a new management team securing the future of the series. Toleman Motorsport has been given the seal of approval from MINI Australia and CAMS to act as Category Management Agency for the rest of the year. All racing dates and television schedules will remain as advertised. Further highlighting the future of the MINI CHALLENGE is word that plans for the 2009 calendar are in full swing with seven rounds already locked in as negotiations continue.
With the demise of Sherrin Motorsport, subsidary company Motorsport Event Management (MEM) was forced to put the management rights for the MINI CHALLENGE up for sale last May.
Toleman Motosport is headed by Ted Toleman who was the person responsible for giving Ayrton Senna his start in Formula 1. Toleman’s last Grand Prix was Australia’s first, Adelaide 1985. It’s great to see Australia’s MINI CHALLENGE series in good hands and I’m sure all fans of the series will be looking forward to racing this weekend for Round 5 at Phillip Island, including live action from Race 3 to be broadcast on Channel 7 on Sunday (check your local guides).
For the full details on the Toleman Motorsport news the press release from MINI CHALLENGE has been included below. Don’t forget, you can keep up to date with the series and its personalties by joining the Aussie MINI CHALLENGE Army on facebook.
TED TOLEMAN TAKES OVER MINI CHALLENGE (AUSTRALIA)
MINI CHALLENGE (Australia) will return this weekend at Phillip Island in support of the L&H 500 V8 Supercar event, with the man who gave Ayrton Senna his Formula 1 start, Ted Toleman, at the helm.
Since Motorsport Event Management Pty Ltd was placed into liquidation, Toleman Motorsport has been in negotiations with MINI and the Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS) and was appointed the Category Management Agency for the remainder of 2008.
Chairman, Ted Toleman, owned Toleman Motorsport Formula 1 between 1981 and 1985, famously signing Senna from under Bernie Ecclestone’s nose (Ecclestone owned Brabham at the time and had Senna under contract).
Of course, Senna went on to become one of the greats of the sport with three World Driver’s Championships before his untimely death at Imola in 1994. Eventually, Toleman sold out to Benetton, with the team evolving into the ING Renault F1 team of today.
Whilst Ted Toleman continues to be strategic in his approach to everything motorsport, he recognises that success in the sport is not all about racing.
“The company today partners with category specialists to deliver best of breed solutions. This is why we have selected to team up with Craig Denyer and Bill West, the Category Managers of V8 Ute racing, for the on-track management and logistics of MINI CHALLENGE,” said Ted.
Whilst the interruption to proceedings over the last six weeks was unexpected, National Manager, MINI, Justin Hocevar says the Series is back and will be better than ever.
“The key message is that is that MINI CHALLENGE is back on track with the same Operations Management team, but with a new Category Manager that will take the category forward significantly on all levels,” Justin said. “MINI has completed negotiations with CAMS, V8 Supercars and of course Toleman Motorsport and the Series will fulfil its commitments for the remainder of 2008.
“We’ve retained the same television package as was in place prior to MEM’s demise and the calendar will remain as it was.”
At least seven rounds have been agreed with V8 Supercars for 2009, as positive negotiations continue to take place with all stakeholders.
“Despite the recent upset, there is sufficient momentum to see this exciting new category continue and to be a part of the Australian motorsport landscape for some time to come,” Justin concluded.
On the track this weekend, hostilities will resume for title honours between Series leader, Grant Denyer in his DecoRug Motorsport machine and Neil McFadyen in the M3 Motorsport car.
Sherrin Motorsport’s closure has seen the cars operated by that team dispersed to other racecar preparers. DecoRug Motorsport’s cars (Denyer and Paul Stokell) will be run by Melbourne Performance Centre, whilst Paul and Todd Fioreâ€šs Brisbane MINI Garage/Shell Helix Ultra cars will be run by Greg Murphy Racing, adding to its stable of racecars.
Gold Coast-based Bruce Lynton MINI Garage will operate a car for newcomer albeit experienced campaigner, Beric Lynton. The Kings Way MINI Garage from Melbourne joins the Series as well, Rob Graham the pilot. Ed Singleton will join the Series in a Doulman Automotive prepared car, whilst Queenslander, Brendan Cook, who is brand new to motorsport having made his debut at Sandown, will continue his learning curve in the Terex Cranes machine.
Series regulars McFadyen (M3 Motorsport), Scott and Jason Bargwanna (Bargwanna Motorsport), Darren Berry and Todd Wanless (Motorline MINI Garage), David Turner (Glory Team Racing), Nick Stillwell (Bib Stillwell MINI Garage), Nathan Geier (Split Image Project Management) and Gary Young (Salta Constructions) all return.
Following on from this weekendâ€šs event, MINI CHALLENGE will next be seen at Bathurst for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, then Symmons Plains for the Falken Tasmania Challenge in November and the season finale at the NRMA 400, Oran Park in December.
All the action from MINI CHALLENGE can be seen this weekend on the Seven Network nationally.