Team Australia set sights on Spain’s MINI Challenge

MINI Challenge - Team Australia

The MINI Challenge has many great aspects about it. One is the fact you can buy a MINI John Cooper Works from your local MINI dealer that is pretty damn close in performance to the track-only racecars. Another is that the series is run in a number of countries. This aspect provides opportunities for cross pollination of competitors.

In addition to the Australian championship there are MINI Challenge competitions currently held in Germany, Spain, UK, Brazil and Saudi Arabia. And it is MINI Challenge Spain we focus on here. Next month at the Jarama circuit near Madrid Paul Stokell and Chris Alajajian will combine forces to form MINI Challenge Team Australia.

Paul and Chris, normally direct competitors, earned the right to represent Australia due to finishing first and second in the 2009 Australian MINI Challenge championship.

The guys leave for Spain at the end of this month and will prepare for a three race program starting on 5 June. At the wheel of their specially designed Team Australia MINI each driver will compete in a 20 lap sprint race on the first day of racing. On day two they will share duties in a 50 lap enduro.

Chris Brown, Marketing Manager MINI Australia says there is more to come as well, “These money-can’t-buy opportunities to race overseas are key benefits of being involved in an international category like MINI Challenge. This is only the beginning of a broader international outlook for MINI Challenge.”

Alajajian is excited to be working with Stokell, “Normally Paul and I are the greatest of rivals so it will be different working as a team but I think this will give us an opportunity to learn from each other, driving the same car for the same team.”

“The main objective is to be consistent and show pace and I think if we both have that same objective we can offer a great package for MINI Challenge Team Australia. I really like the style of this ‘teams’ racing format, it makes me even hungrier to get out there and post some top results,” Alajajian said.

Both Alajajian and Stokell are in good form leading the 2010 championship table and here’s hoping the lads can put in a good effort for Team Australia in Spain. In exchange it is hoped a Spanish team will take place in the final round of the Australian MINI Challenge at Homebush in December.

The full press release from MINI can be viewed after the break. Also available is a YouTube video of a 2009 MINI Challenge racecar competing in the recent CER Jarama event.




Destination Spain as MINI Challenge Prize Takes Pair to Jarama

2009 MINI Challenge Champion Paul Stokell and runner-up Chris Alajajian are set for an experience of a lifetime as they head to Madrid to contest round 2 of the Spanish MINI Challenge series as a prize for their outstanding performances in last year’s Australian category.

MINI Challenge “Team Australia” as their outfit will be called for the race, head off at the end of May to Circuito del Jarama for this amazing opportunity with a little piece of Spanish spice. While both Australia and Spain employ identical MINI R56 racecars for competitors to use in their series’ the Spanish have a slightly modified format which sees Alajajian and Stokell teamed together, as opposed to fierce rivals who have dominated the Australian series.

One June 5 Stokell will step into the R56 for race 1 before handing the reins over to Alajajian for race 2 on the same day – both races comprise of 20 minute sessions. Then on Sunday the format turns enduro with a 50 minute race that will see one driver change as Alajajian and his counterpart will replace competition with collaboration and look to make history by being the first Australian team to win a round of the Spain’s MINI Challenge.

International racing experience is second to none in developing a drivers’ career and this prize is further proof that MINI Challenge offers a platform to the highest levels of motorsport. Thanks to MINI Australia these two drivers have a unique opportunity to learn from the best in Europe and hopefully stake their claim as the best MINI Challenge drivers in the world.

MINI Challenge “Team Australia” will also sport a striking livery for the Spanish event flying the Aussie flag high on what is set to be some exciting rubber-to-rubber racing in Jarama (Madrid).

MINI Challenge currently runs in 6 different nations (Australia, Germany, UK, Spain, Brazil and Saudi Arabia) and MINI Challenge Spain, as a part of their winning prize, is following Australia’s footsteps and will be sending the 2-driver winning team to an international race at the end of this year. “Bring them down-under,” said Stokell “Homebush will be a cracker for them!” he added.

Marketing Manager, MINI Australia, Chris Brown said:
“These money-can’t-buy opportunities to race overseas are key benefits of being involved in an international category like MINI Challenge. We are sending our best drivers to represent Australia, taking our local talent to the world stage. This is only the beginning of a broader international outlook for MINI Challenge”.

Category Manager, MINI Challenge Spain, Luis Sepulveda said:
“This is the first time we have had an Australian team join us for a round of MINI Challenge in Spain. We welcome both Paul [Stokell] and Chris [Alajajain] to our series and I look forward to seeing their talents up against our Spanish drivers. The experience of these two is great but it will be a new format for them which I am sure they will enjoy. MINI Australia has made this possible and it is a great prize for any driver and we have also put on offer a drive at an international race for the winner of this year’s MINI Challenge in Spain. Our racing is fun and exciting as is our Spanish hospitality so I look forward to hosting the guys and showing them our style in Spain.”

Driver, MINI Challenge Australia, Chris Alajajian said:
“This is a great opportunity for me and just to think it all came down to the final race of the year in 2009 where I was able to snatch 2nd in the series! A big thankyou to MINI Australia for giving both Paul and I this opportunity, MINI have always looked after me so I try and give back to them where ever I can and hopefully I can do this in Spain. Normally Paul and I are the greatest of rivals so it will be different working as a team but I think this will give us an opportunity to learn from each other, driving the same car for the same team. OK working with a new team with no testing is going to be challenging to start with but Paul is a very experienced driver and I’d like to think both of us have come a long way in the R56 over the past two years and with these miles under our belts I’m confident we are capable of progressing at a fast pace. The main objective is to be consistent and show pace and I think if we both have that same objective we can offer a great package for MINI Challenge Team Australia. I really like the style of this ‘teams’ racing format, it makes me even hungrier to get out there and post some top results.”