2010 MINI Challenge – Round 3, Queensland Raceway

2010 MINI Challenge - Australia

At the end of an action packed Round 3 Chris Alajajian still leads the 2010 Australian MINI Challenge. But he didn’t have it all his own way. A qualifying infringement cost Alajajian points and sent him to the back of the grid for Race 1.

Alajajian made good progress in the opening race to finish in sixth place. Defending MINI Challenge champion Paul Stokell crossed the line first, but it was that spectacular accident from Kain Magro that grabbed the headlines and made news clips around the world. Magro’s car rolled seven times, leaping into the crowd on its journey. Amazingly just two spectators suffered minor injuries. Magro also walked away from the crash unscathed.

The second race returned to normal on track action and was won by a fast charging Alajajian. Race 3 was red flagged following Sarah Harvey’s rollover. It happened on the same corner as Magro’s crash the previous day. Despite heavy contact with the tyre wall, Harvey suffered no serious injury. These MINI Challenge racecars are tough little buggers it would seem.

Races 3 and 4 were both won by Alajajian, with Warren Luff and Stokell sharing the podium. In fact, Luff and Stokell finished in the top three placings for all four races over the weekend. Even though Luff didn’t win a race, his consistency and Alajajian’s lost qualifying points ensured Luff claimed the round win. Stokell finished the round in second place and in the process moved up the points table from fifth to second, cutting Alajajian’s overall series lead by four points.

Television highlights, driver quotes and the current championship table can all be seen after the jump.

2010 MINI Challenge - Australia

2010 MINI Challenge - Australia

2010 Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers
Round 3 results

Race 1

  1. Paul Stokell
  2. Warren Luff
  3. Dean Canto

Race 2

  1. Chris Alajajian
  2. Paul Stokell
  3. Warren Luff

Race 3

  1. Chris Alajajian
  2. Warren Luff
  3. Paul Stokell

Race 4

  1. Chris Alajajian
  2. Warren Luff
  3. Paul Stokell

Luff Claims Maiden MINI Victory in Ipswich

  • Warren Luff has won Round 3 on debut.
  • Paul Stokell finishes a close second to Luff and flies up to second in the series.
  • Despite starting from the back of the grid for race 1 Chris Alajajian charges home to win races 3 and 4.
  • Alajajian finished third for the round with V8 Star Luke Youlden in 4th.
  • Kiwi Gavin Yortt steered his Squawking Magpie Wines entry to a best result of 5th for round 3.
  • Pizza Capers UberStar driver Steven Bradbury improved remarkably to finish seventh in today’s last race.
  • Chris Wootton had a personal best race result of 4th in today’s final race.

Round 3 of Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers has been taken out by debutant and V8 star Warren Luff at this weekend’s City of Ipswich 300.

Closely following in second by a mere three points was DecoRug driver Paul Stokell who now moves to second outright in the MINI Challenge. The Series lead still remains in the hands of young Chris Alajajian who finished third overall at QR but with Stokell amassing 25 points on the Sydneysider; it’s any ones game to win as the challenge begins for the second half of the series.

Another first-timer to the series was V8 Enduro competitor Luke Youlden whose consistency paid off as he finished fourth for the round. Gavin Yortt’s two sixth place finishes put the Kiwi in the top-5 for the first time in his Australian MINI Challenge career.

Sixth went to north Queenslander John Magro in the just4wd.com.au entry while the Sport Rewards entrant and MINI Challenge regular Chris Wootton placed seventh for the round thanks to a brilliant drive in the final race today where he finished fourth. V8 star Dean Canto had an unfortunate day after coming together with Sean Carter in race 3 and, as a result, opted out of race 4 early as his MINI was unsteady due to the previous race incident.

After big incidents both today and yesterday, drivers Sarah Harley and Kain Magro were back at the track for lunch today to watch their fellow MINI Challenge competitors battle out in the final race. It is a true testament to the strength of the MINI Challenge R56 car that neither driver sustained any affecting injuries and were able to return to MINI HQ.

MINI Challenge Round 3 Winner Warren Luff said:
“It was great fun racing the MINIs this weekend at Queensland Raceway and I was a bit surprised I won the round but it helps that in this series full points are on offer for qualifying so that helped as we picked up pole. It was a great opportunity to drive a full round of this series, the cars awesome to drive and to have the chance to mix it up with Paul [Stokell] and Chris [Alajajian] was great fun. MINI Challenge is a great concept and a fun series to be involved in so it was a pleasure driving with the guys this weekend.”

MINI Challenge driver Sarah Harley said:
“That was a really big hit this morning and it is a testament to the MINI and its strength that I walked away with just a bit of whiplash. It was scary heading into the tyre wall so fast I kind of tensed up and braced myself. It was a hard impact but all the safety features on the car did their job and officials worked really quickly to help me out of the car and secure the situation.”

Speaking after Races 1 and 2

MINI Challenge Driver Paul Stokell said:
“Race 1 I had a brilliant start despite the 35kg ballast from qualifying and had Luffy from the line so I was able to get away and maintain the gap until the end. I had things going well in Race 2 until I saw Chris [Alajajian] flying up behind me and with 50kg added to my racecar, I just played it safe and allowed him by. Especially with Luff right behind him; I didn’t want to take any big risks because we have a good lead for the round and I have 39 points on Chris after these three sessions which is a big gain for my championship push.”

MINI Challenge Series Leader Chris Alajajian said:
“The miscommunication from Qualifying set me back and from that I was fuming and just wanted to get out there and finish race 1. The first race the car was not too stable so we didn’t have much grip but I pushed and progressed through the grid to finish sixth which isn’t so bad from the final spot on the grid and with 20kg success ballast. This put me in a good position to give it my all for race 2 and we managed to pull off the victory. Championship points are critical and after the qualifying situation I really need to make up for lost points tomorrow and, at least, maintain, if not try and extend, my series lead. I’ll have 50kg ballast tomorrow so things are only half smiles at the moment but if I can come away with a podium by the end of the round it will be smiles all round.”

Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers is the most exciting, premium single-make series in the world. The seven round series runs as an official support category of the V8 Supercar Championship Series. The next event for the MINI Challenge will be the Sucrogen Townsville 400, 9-11 July.

2010 Australian MINI Challenge Championship Table – Top 10

Pos Driver Team Pts
1 ALAJAJIAN, Chris Jack Hillermans Smash 397
2 STOKELL, Paul DecoRug Racing 355
3 McNIVEN, Peter Nulon/Supercharge Batteries 326
4 CARTER, Sean Plan4Growth/Sales Link Australasia 318
5 YORTT, Gavin Squawking Magpie Wines 269
6 CANTO, Dean Stuntdrivingschool.com.au 203
= McLAUGHLIN, Scott Fujitsu 203
8 COOK, Brendan Transquip Hire/ABC Autogear 201
9 WOOTTON, Chris www.thesupporterclub.com 197
10 WOOD, Dale Eagle Fuels/Best Tractor Parts 193

2010 MINI Challenge calendar