The 2009 Australian MINI CHALLENGE series calendar has been confirmed and, as speculated, the year will kick off at the Melbourne Grand Prix. Full listing below:
2009 MINI CHALLENGE CALENDAR
(TV Coverage in brackets – Live denotes single race unless otherwise stated):
- March 26-29 Formula 1™ ING Australian Grand Prix Albert Park, Vic (Live)
- May 29-31 Falken Tasmania Challenge Symmons Plains, Tas (30m HL)
- July 10-12 Townsville 400 Townsville, Qld (Live + 30m HL)
- Jul 31-Aug 2 Sandown 400 Sandown, Vic (30m HL)
- September 11-13 L&H 500 Phillip Island, Vic (Live + 30m HL)
- October 22-25 Gold Coast SuperGP Gold Coast, Qld (Live + 30m HL)
- November 20-22 Barbagallo Raceway Wanneroo, WA (2 xLive + 30m HL)
- December 4-6 Sydney 400 Grand Finale Sydney, NSW (Live + 30m HL)
There’s new teams and new locations all set for 2009, but can Neil McFadyen prevent there being a new champion too?
AWESOME MINI CHALLENGE SEASON 2 ROARS INTO LIFE AT THE AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX.
MELBOURNE – February 23, 2009: After arriving with a bang last year, MINI Challenge will take a giant leap forward in 2009 – with feature events at the Formula 1™ ING Australian Grand Prix, Gold Coast A1 ‘SuperGP’, Townsville 400 and the Sydney 400, Grand Finale as part of its calendar.
The street circuits, coupled with traditional race circuits – in the form of Phillip Island for the L&H 500 and Sandown, among others – will provide one of the toughest tests in Australian motorsport competition.
“We’ve secured a solid platform of the best motorsport events Australia has to offer. These events will deliver an incredibly exciting MINI Challenge this year!” said Justin Hocevar, National Manager, MINI.
“With such a strong calendar of events, parity in performance from the fastest factory prepared and backed MINI racecars ever built and a stable of high calibre drivers….Australian motorsport fans are in store for an amazing season of super close racing excitement,” Justin went on to say.
“Spectacular racing coupled with a television package second only to V8 Supercars and underpinned by a sustainable value proposition will provide opportunities for sponsors, teams and drivers that only MINI Challenge can deliver.
In 2009 MINI Challenge will provide an entertainment spectacle worthy of celebrating the marque’s 50th Anniversary and its status as Australia’s leading single make category. After all, the heritage of MINI contributes an integral place in Australia’s rich history of motorsport and MINI Challenge rightfully builds on that history. Not just here in Australia, but Germany, the UK, New Zealand and now Spain – which will run its first MINI Challenge this year – are privileged to enjoy the unique MINI Challenge brand of motorsport.
A popular concept from 2008 – the UBER-STAR CAR – will be back and after last year’s program – well known personalities from the arenas of sports, media and entertainment are chomping at the bit to suit up and step behind the wheel of the 240kph rocketship!
Many of the teams that competed in the inaugural year will be back this year, led by the Champion team – M3 Motorsport out of Sydney. Team principal – Peter Doulman – is preparing to unleash his latest secret weapon (or weapons…) in an effort to win back-to-back Championships.
The legendary Stillwell family will field two cars and will continue to prepare the UBER-STAR CAR, whilst Queenslander, Brendon Cook – who joined the Series midway through last year will line up in a car engineered by Motorline MINI Garage with backing from Transquip and Century Cranes in Cairns.
A new look Bargwanna Motorsport outfit is expected to be back, so too DecoRug Motorsport – who went ‘oh, so close’ to claiming the first title last year.
Looking forward to being part of the Series for the first time will be Lake Macquarie (NSW) based driver, Andrew Torville. For many years, Torville has been a solid competitor on the national karting scene and is approaching his first season of circuit racing with great vigour.
“MINI Challenge appeals to us as a form of motorsport due to the parity between competitors and the relative low cost of getting involved,” 24-year-old Andrew said. “It’s one of the few motorsports on the national scene where it comes down purely to driver skill and the package is achievable from a cost point of view.
“With the television package and the professional presentation of the Series, you have something that you can sell to a sponsor and have them get some benefit from being involved.”
Toleman Motorsport – the company charged with managing the Category still have a few surprises up their sleeve ahead of the first round at the Australian Grand Prix – March 26-29.
“We’re ecstatic to have such a fantastic calendar squared away for this year,” said Toleman Motorsport Chairman – and the man who gave Ayrton Senna his first Formula 1 start – Ted Toleman. “The close racing MINI has shown will go to another level on the tight confines of the street circuits and we’re sure to bring entertainment to race fans right across the country.
MINI Challenge utilises the MINI John Cooper Works Challenge racecar. Based on the MINI Cooper S, the cars accelerate from 0-100kph in just 6.1 seconds. They can hit a top speed of 240kph from the punchy 1600cc turbocharged engine.
Each MINI Challenge event features three races and in an effort to give every competitor a chance at winning, a ‘success ballast’ system is employed. The top three from each event are forced to carry 25kg, 15kg and 10kg respectively (to a maximum of 50kg). Weight is removed depending on a driver’s finishing position.
All in all, 2009 is shaping up to be a year packed with sensational MINI Challenge action right throughout Australia!