MINI Challenge ready for run to the title

Australian MINI Challenge

The Australian MINI Challenge series is about to awaken from its mid-season slumber. The pocket rockets will be on course at Phillip Island from 10–12 September.

Chris Alajajian currently leads the series on 512 points. In second, on 464.5 points, is 2009 Champion Paul Stokell. Young Victorian Peter McNiven, enjoying his maiden MINI Challenge season, is close behind in third place on 426 points.

Fans of the MINI Challenge series can keep up to date on AUSmotive, of course, but also via twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

To see what else has been happening since Townsville check out the material after the jump.

Peter McNiven & Sean Carter, MINI Challenge

Sunbury vs Leongatha As Young-Guns Head to Phillip Island

Local Victorian lads Sean Carter and Peter McNiven head to Phillip Island next month locked in a close fought battle for third place on the 2010 Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers Championship ladder.

Leongatha-based McNiven leads the pair by a mere 8 points which, with a maximum of 36 points on offer for both qualifying and each of the three races, is just a scratch of the championship surface.

The duo have been trading blows all year which has laid the grounds for some exciting MINI Challenge action for both competitors and fans alike. Despite the fact fellow competitors Chris Alajajian and Paul Stokell have dominated so far this season, the Victorian pair are still very much in for a chance at taking overall spoils in 2010 with 12 scoring sessions remaining this season.

Nineteen-year-old Carter has a wealth of experience on his local circuit and for the first time this year, will be racing the MINI R56 on a track where he has previously raced before. The young Victorian will have added support of family, friends and sponsors who will be supporting the local on his home event.

At 24 years old McNiven is having a super season despite only sitting behind the wheel of the MINI R56 for the first time at Clipsal 500 this year. He too has a bag of experience around the Phillip Island track and is geared up for a home-town battle with Carter.

MINI Challenge driver Peter McNiven said:
“We’ve got loads of experience at Phillip Island and last time I was there in the VIC State HQ Series we finished on Pole so I have fond memories of the track. Of all the places we have raced this year this is the first one I have competed on in the past so I think this will help a lot. We tested here the weekend after Townsville which was my first time round the track in a MINI and we were able to set the car up a lot better as it really needed tweaking from the way it was setup for the Townsville Street Circuit. Even though I prefer the street style circuits I think Phillip Island is the best opportunity I have to win a round this year but there will be some added pressure being my home event! Sean [Carter] is probably the most approachable competitor in the series and we get along really well off the track. I couldn’t ask for a better rival as we both have a lot of respect for each other and give each other plenty of room on the track which is what it’s all about. There is still a long way to go in this championship and we are by no means settling for third, Phillip Island will be a big event and hopefully one where I can reel in some points on the two guys ahead of us.”

MINI Challenge driver Sean Carter said:
“I’ve done hundreds of laps round this track from my 944 Championship days and we did several laps testing the MINI a few weeks ago so I’m definitely a lot more confident with this amount of track knowledge. It’s actually the first event in 2010 that I won’t be heading to a circuit completely blind, as I had never raced at the first four MINI Challenge venues this season. Pete [McNiven] and I have been battling all year and it’s great to have someone like him to gauge my speed against. He is a really nice guy and we are mates off the track but come race day we are the fiercest of rivals which makes for more enjoyable and more intense racing. It’s really tight for that third spot in the championship but we are also still well in with a shot at the overall title as anything can happen in these exciting one-make series. I was off my game a bit in Townsville but I’m really pumped for Phillip Island, I really just need to find one or two tenths to be on front-running pace and this will be the first step at Phillip Island, before the final two rounds which I have good experience of after competing in the MINI at both Gold Coast and Sydney last year.”

UberStar Innes aims to topple top-runners at Phillip Island

New Zealand driving sensation Craig Innes has been selected as the Pizza Capers UberStar driver for Round 5 of Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers at Phillip Island racing circuit between 10–12 September.

The Kiwi is no stranger to this particular brand of driving, having won the 2008/2009 New Zealand MINI Challenge series, as well as winning the New Zealand Production Racing Series in the 2WD class this year.

Innes’ prior MINI experience will no doubt keep some of the series top-runners on their toes for what promises to be a super-sized MINI challenge round next month.

This is yet another huge boost to the Australian MINI Challenge series which has been proactively engaging the international market after current championship front-runners Chris Alajajian and Paul Stokell contested a round of the Spanish series for finishing one-two in last year’s season.

Pizza Capers UberStar Driver Craig Innes said:
“I tried not to get too excited before I was confirmed as Pizza Capers UberStar driver but now that it is confirmed, I am very excited at the opportunity. I am borrowing a MINI from a friend a few weeks prior to the event so that I can get my eye in, because I don’t want to waste a practice session trying to get used to the car again. My objective is to try win but more so to have a good weekend and make sure I bring the car back in one piece so I can gain maximum experience over all three races. It will take a little bit to get my head around the R56 as we use a supercharged R53 version of the MINI in New Zealand but essentially the nature and handling of the car is the same so I’m confident we can be in the mix from the word go.”

Round 5 of Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers, L&H 500 Phillip Island, begins Friday 10 September with a 20 minute practice session at 09:05, followed by Qualifying at 13:40.

MINI Challenge Goes Global With Motors TV

Just weeks after announcing a new TV deal with Fox Sports and TV3 NZ, Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers has extended its broadcast range to a global audience with the category striking a deal with European broadcaster Motors TV.

This comes as a huge boost to the category with Motors TV broadcasting to over 33 European countries spanning over a massive 14.6 million households across the northern hemisphere.

With MINI Challenge now a global phenomenon, running in seven different countries worldwide (Germany, UK, Spain, Australia, Brazil, Argentina and Saudi Arabia), this is the perfect opportunity for Australia to showcase it’s talents to the rest of the world.

The 2010 Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers series will be viewed its entirety when each of the post-produced shows from the year are screened on Motors TV during the months of January and February in 2011.

Hertz MINI Challenge – delivered by Pizza Capers will now be broadcast over four different networks (Seven, Fox Sports, TV3 and Motors TV) as it continues to strive as the most exciting, premium single-make series in the world.

MINI Challenge Australia Category Manager Ted Toleman said:
 “We’re delighted to be given this opportunity to showcase Australia’s MINI Challenge series to a vast global audience. Of the 33 countries Motors TV covers, three nations – Germany, Spain and the UK – all have large subscriptions to the network and all have their own national MINI Challenge series’. This will give our European counterparts an opportunity to discover what our series has to offer and perhaps entice some internationals to our shores in the future. After Paul [Stokell] and Chris’ [Alajajian] trip to Spain last month the category has been looking to engage the global MINI Challenge market and to be able to display ours to the European market is a huge boost for everyone concerned.”

Chris Alajajian, Jax Quickfit

2010 Australian MINI Challenge Championship Table – Top 10

Pos Driver Team Pts
1 Chris ALAJAJIAN JAX Quickfit/Jack Hillermans Smash 512
2 Paul STOKELL DecoRug Racing 464.5
3 Peter McNIVEN Supercharge Batteries 426
4 Sean CARTER Plan4Growth/Sales Link Australasia 418
5 Gavin YORTT Squawking Magpie Wines 344.5
6 Brendan COOK Transquip Hire/ABC Autogear 275
7 Chris WOOTTON 224
8 Glenn SETON Pizza Capers 206
9 Dean CANTO 203
10 Chris McLAUGHLIN Fujitsu 203

2010 MINI Challenge calendar