2010 MINI Challenge – Round 3 Preview

Chris Alajajian, current series leader, 2010 MINI Challenge

This weekend’s MINI Challenge round at Queensland Raceway includes a few firsts for the series. The most obvious is the debut of the John Cooper Works MINI Challenge racecars on the Ipswich circuit. In addition the usual three race program will be replaced with a four race card, including two races on Saturday and two races on Sunday.

MINI Challenge Category Manager Ted Toleman is looking forward to the weekend, “It is great to see a four-race format for the first time in our series. We have seen some incredibly close racing over the last two events and now the fans in Queensland will be treated to even more of this exciting racing. We have competitors as young as 16-years-old in the series and for the young guys there is nothing better than experience and track-time to help them progress positively through their careers.”

Another first this weekend will be the appearance of Sarah Harley, who will be the first female to race in the MINI Challenge for 2010. She will be joined by a number of V8 Supercar drivers, including Warren Luff, Luke Youlden and Dean Canto.

Steven Bradbury returns to the MINI Challenge grid at the wheel of the Pizza Capers Über-star car and he hopes this experience will allow him to further his motorsport ambitions, “I love driving race cars and I’m counting down the days until I hit the track at QR. The experience I gained last year in the MINI, and having driven at QR before, will hopefully enable me to be quite competitive. I have longer term aspirations in motorsport and driving the UberStar Car is an opportunity that might help me realise those aspirations.”

With 16 cars to line up this weekend the action is sure to be fast paced and full of thrills. Can Chris Alajajian continue his early season speed, or will defending champion Paul Stokell start a charge up the points table?

A few press releases from MINI can be found after the jump and if you can’t get to Queensland Raceway this weekend make sure you book some time on the couch the following weekend for the Channel 7 highlights package scheduled for 8 May.

2010 Australian MINI Challenge Championship Points Table

Pos Driver Team Pts
1 ALAJAJIAN, Chris Jack Hillermans Smash 264
2 CARTER, Sean Plan4Growth 218
= McNIVEN, Peter Nulon/Supercharge Batteries 218
4 McLAUGHLIN, Scott Fujitsu 203
5 STOKELL, Paul DecoRug Racing 197
6 WOOD, Dale Eagle Fuels/Best Tractor Parts 193
7 MANSON, Scott Yournextcar.com.au 176
8 YORTT, Gavin Squawking Magpie Wines 149
9 CANTO, Dean Stuntdrivingschool.com.au 121
10 COOK, Brendan Transquip Hire/ABC Autogear 103
11 SETON, Glenn Kickass Racing 92
12 DOULMAN, Grant Doulman Automotive 90
13 MACKELDEN, Matt DecoRug Racing 89
14 WOOTTON, Chris Thesupporterclub.com 83
15 NEWMAN, Sam Pizza Capers 71
= ZEREFOS, Aaron Fiji Water/Bulla Dairy Foods 71
17 MADDISON, Robbie Pizza Capers 67
18 THOMAS, Dylan CXC 58

MINIs Fire Up for Four Race Foray at Ipswich 300

  • 16 John Cooper Works MINIs will take to the grid at next week’s Ipswich 300 at QR.
  • The 4-race format to be used at QR is the first in MINI Challenge history.
  • Round 3 marks the first time MINI Challenge racing heads to Queensland Raceway.
  • Kain Magro and Stephen Butcher will have first ever taste of MINI Challenge racing.
  • John Magro is back for a second run in the MINI Challenge.
  • V8 Star Luke Youlden is back in MINI action and joins the 16-strong grid.
  • Steven Bradbury will run as the Pizza Capers UberStar driver.
  • Chris Alajajian will start Qualifying with a 46-point series lead.
  • Sean Carter and Peter McNiven sit on equal points in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Round 3 of Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers will offer a new style of racing-format as crews head to Queensland Raceway next weekend for the Ipswich 300.

A 4-race format will be used for the first time in MINI Challenge history meaning a maximum of 36 additional championship points will be up-for-grabs with the extra session on offer. Due to the extended format no reverse-grid system will be in place for any races at the Ipswich 300 event.

Chris Alajajian heads into round 3 with a commanding series lead but with extra points on offer racing will be hotter than ever at Queensland Raceway next weekend. Joining Alajajian and his MINI Challenge comrades are some fresh faces for 2010 including V8 Star Luke Youlden who will spice things up with team-mate and fellow V8 Supercar Enduro driver Dean Canto.

Mango Farmers, the Magro brothers will make the trek down from North Queensland as a brother-combination to tackle a round of the MINI challenge series. While John tackled the MINI round at Sandown in 2009 this will be Kain’s first race at highest level of Australian circuit-racing as the pair look to make a name for themselves in the just4wd.com.au entered MINI Challenge R56.

Also making his series debut behind the wheel of a MINI is Stephen Butcher who has skilled his craft in the open-wheeled version of motorsport. Butcher will be filling in at QR, driving Dylan Thomas’ CXC MINI as Thomas takes a round out to compete in Targa Tasmania which coincides with round 3 of the MINI Challenge series.

Pizza Capers UberStar driver for the event is Australia’s first ever Winter Olympic Gold Medallist Steven Bradbury who returns for a second shot at the MINI Challenge after a fine performance at Sandown last season.

Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers series leader Chris Alajajian said:
“Queensland Raceway is a highlighted event on the MINI Challenge calendar as the whole track is visible to spectators, which makes it very entertaining to watch. For us as drivers, especially the top-3, it will be highly demanding as the success ballast weighs the car down at this stop and go circuit. I believe this will be a good recipe for extremely close, and for me, “intense” racing, but I sure am looking forward to another MINI challenge, and an opportunity to try & stretch my lead.”

Racing gets underway Saturday 09.00am sharp when drivers line-up for qualifying. Races 1 and 2 will be run on Saturday with Races 3 and 4 being held on Sunday, all as official support races for the V8 Supercar Championship round – Ipswich 300.

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.

Luff Turns Up the Heat at QR

A fifth V8 Supercar driver has just been announced on the entry-list for weekend’s Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers at Queensland Raceway making it an awesome line-up of Aussie talent which is a sure recipe for dynamic racing at the Ipswich 300 event.

Warren Luff joins the fold under the McElrea Racing banner along with another last minute entrant in Sarah Harley who becomes the first female driver to contest a 2010 event in the MINI Challenge series. Both drivers and the McElrea Racing outfit hail from the sunshine state in South East QLD and have copious amounts of experience around the paperclip track, however; for Harley, this will be her first experience driving the MINI R56 competitively for the first time.

Luff on-board is a huge coup for the series as he lines-up against current V8 drivers such as Dean Canto and Luke Youlden plus former V8 Champion Paul Stokell and current MINI Challenge leader Chris Alajajian who had a successful stint in the development series in 2007.

Combined with other stars such as Chris Wootton – former Formula BMW Pacific driver, John Magro – currently 4th in Australian Formula 3 series, Peter McNiven – 2005 HQ Nationals Champion and young-gun speedster Sean Carter – Round 3 is set to be the one of the tightest, exciting MINI Challenge races yet.

MINI Challenge driver Warren Luff said:
“I’m really looking forward to driving the MINI this weekend. I had a run in Townsville last year with Denyer and have tested the car a couple of times so it’ll be good to get back into it on the home track. Dean [Canto], Luke [Youlden] and I will all be battling it out in the Enduros later this year so it will be good fun and a bit of a preview of what’s to come as we all duke it out this weekend in the MINIs. The more established guys like Paul Stokell and Chris Alajajian are obviously the benchmark so we have to be up with them. Along with this it will be a busy weekend driving the DJR car on Friday so I think it should be a really fun weekend all round.”

MINI Challenge driver Dean Canto said:
“Last time Luffy and I raced side-by-side was at Bathurst last year and some panels were rubbed so I’m sure it will be fun out there when we duel again. It’ll be great to challenge Luke [Youlden] for a change as opposed to being his team-mate so I reckon we’ll be playing around a bit out there. It’s great to see this calibre of drivers and in such a great car in an event that is going to be very close with lots of action. I’m looking forward to getting back into the MINI on Saturday and reigniting the fire after a disappointing finish to the last round.”

Mareeba’s Mango Men Make Their Mark on MINI Challenge

Mango Farmers John and Kain Magro are set to make their debut as a two-car team in the 2010 Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers at this weekend’s Ipswich 300 at Queensland Raceway.

While Kain has never competed behind the wheel of a MINI R56 Challenge car, brother John raced at Sandown during last season, and in very competitive fashion. Together the brothers will enter under the Magro Motorsport banner and will contest this weekend’s round along with the Sucrogen Townsville 400 plus hope to contest the remaining rounds, pending budget allocations.

At just 24 and 22 respectively, John and Kain are no slouches behind the wheel and will be giving it their all in search of a round win in the series. Both drivers are previous Formula Ford and Speedway State Champions with John currently running 4th in the Formula Ford National Australian series.

Hailing from Mareeba in far-north Queensland, the youngsters will be looking to make a name for themselves as the fastest brothers in MINI Challenge history when they take their just4wd.com.au MINIs to the track this weekend.

This will be a fine test for the pair given the pedigree of brotherly racing in past Australian MINI Challenge seasons which has seen four separate brother-combinations compete in the same round (Aaron/Nathan Caratti, Iain/Michael Sherrin, Paul/Todd Fiore and Karl/Chris Reindler).

MINI Challenge driver John Magro said:
“It’s great to be heading to these two V8 Supercar rounds and running in the MINI Challenge series against some of the country’s top drivers. So far both Kain and I will be contesting the Ipswich and Townsville events thanks to strong support from our new sponsor just4wd.com.au. Last time I was out in a MINI I had no tools and one mechanic who was a friend, and we managed to finish 4th for the weekend. Hopefully Magro Motorsport can get me all the way to the top of the standings. Kain has never driven a front-wheel-drive racecar before but he is a very competent driver and I have no doubt he will do well especially with his motorsport background.”

MINI Challenge a Perfect Platform for Gold Coast Youngster

Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers is not only an official support category of the V8 Supercar Championship Series but an extremely strong platform for young rising stars in the world of circuit racing.

At just 16 years of age Scott McLaughlin is destined for big things. Already signed-up with V8 Supercar giants Stone Brothers Racing, the Gold Coast-based driver has been moulding his craft through MINI Challenge. With strong support from SBR and his family the youngster is also set to take on future events in the Fujitsu Development Series in 2010.

McLaughlin currently lies fourth in the Championship after two rounds – his first two competitive events behind the wheel of a racecar after many years in Karts. Fellow MINI Challenge competitor Sean Carter is also paving the way for rookie-racers in the series as he lies equal second on the ladder in his first full year at just 19 years of age.

With the series spanning seven rounds, covering some of the highest-profile and testing tracks in Australian circuit-racing, it is a fantastic means for any young up-and-coming driver to learn and develop their racing skills with a consistent, competitive and premium package.

The addition of Australian V8 Champions like Glenn Seton, Dean Canto and Paul Stokell to MINI Challenge this season also offers a benchmark of the highest quality which these rookie drivers can use as the perfect performance-gauge.

MINI Challenge driver Scott McLaughlin said:
“I’ve done nine years of Karting but these opening two rounds of the MINI Challenge series have been my first ever races in an actual racecar and I have come away with so much from them. I have had a great opportunity to learn new driving skills and go out and race on tracks like Albert Park and Adelaide where I’ll hopefully be doing a lot of racing in future years. Also, going to these tracks really adds to the memory bank – I have a track simulator at home but there is nothing like being there for real and learning every inch of the circuit. Running alongside guys like Glenn Seton and Dean Canto has been another great way for me to learn new techniques because they’re such good drivers with impressive resumes and to be able to keep up with them at these events has been a huge confidence booster for me.”

2010 MINI Challenge calendar