Congratulations to Chris Alajajian who was crowned 2010 MINI Challenge champion at the series finale in Sydney on the weekend. Alajajian led the standings going into the round, but had to fend off 2009 defending champ Paul Stokell, who was within reach of claiming back-t0-back titles.
In the end victory in Race 1 for Alajajian meant a solid fifth place in Race 2 was enough to seal the deal. Speaking after the event Alajajian said, “Consistency this year was key and we didn’t put a foot wrong all year apart from at the Gold Coast, and this was a major factor in our success. The points system this year made racing really close and I think we have showcased the best season out of the three years this series has been run.”
Following BMW Australia’s recent announcement to end the series Alajajian will be the final MINI Challenge title holder and, along with Stokell, he joins 2008 winner Neil McFadyen on the Australian honour roll.
There’s more after the break and TV highlights will be added when available.
ALAJAJIAN CROWNED MINI CHALLENGE CHAMPION FOR 2010
Chris Alajajian has been crowned the 2010 Hertz MINI Challenge â€“ delivered by Pizza Capers Series Champion at this weekendâ€™s Sydney Telstra 500.
Alajajianâ€™s fifth place result in race 2 was enough for the Sydneysider to clinch the overall series victory heading into todayâ€™s final MINI Challenge race with an insurmountable 40.5 point lead.
After dicing with Paul Stokell all year in 2009 â€“ to lose out by the thinnest of margins â€“ the tables turned this year and it was Alajajian who takes 2010 spoils over Stokell after the most consistent year of his racing career.
Chris Alajajian has taken race 1 victory in the Hertz MINI Challenge â€“ delivered by Pizza Capers at this weekendâ€™s Sydney Telstra 500.
In a shortened, four lap affair Alajajian began from pole and held his leading position to the chequered flag to take victory over championship rival Paul Stokell and extended his series lead to 39.5 with just two races remaining this year.
Stokell got off to a flyer from P3 and immediately passed Spanish driver Javier Villa who was swamped by the 5-times Australian champion, to then be hauled in by 2-time V8 Supercar champion Glenn Seton who finished third for the race.
Nineteen-year-old Sean Carterâ€™s fight for third overall in the series took a harsh blow when the youngster speared into the wall at turn-8 causing extensive damage to the front right and handing him no points with a DNF finish.
With Peter McNiven heading home in fifth the young Victorian is all but assured third place in the series with Carter still a mathematical chance to snatch the final rostrum step 40 points behind.
Unfortunately it wasnâ€™t all smiles with a further two competitors not finishing race 1 which was raced under dampish conditions due to early morning rain. Allan Jarvis retired with rear-right damage to his MINI R56 while Grant Doulman was forced to retire with front end damage which caused over-heating in his machinery.
The CXC entry of Dylan Thomas also encountered trouble when his car became down on power after 3 laps, but the Sydneysider was fortunate enough to limp the car over the line and claim points in 14th.
Drive of the race went to Beric Lynton who finished ninth after starting from the rear of the grid. John Modystachâ€™s eight place result will see him start from the front of the grid for this afternoonâ€™s race 2 at 17.35 with the reverse-grid rules coming into play.
MINI Spain competitor Jose Manuel Del Los Milagros drove superbly to cross the chequered flag in first place for race 2 only to be excluded by the stewards for a jump-start, handing the win to Pizza Capers UberStar Glenn Seton.
With the exclusion of De Los Milagros, Peter McNiven bumped-up to second with the high flying John Modystach recording his best ever result to claim third in the Prosurv Racing entry in race 2.
Fiji Water driver Aaron Zerefos put in a sterling effort to post his best ever MINI Challenge result in seventh while Brendan â€˜Cookieâ€™ Cook rounded out the top-8 with a consistent drive despite some steering issues mid-race.
It wasnâ€™t all smiles however with Spanish driver and former GP2 star Javier Villa who encountered engine mount issues which forced him from position 2 on lap four to and unfortunate DNF result.
For race 3 it was all the Alajajian show as the 25-year-old blitzed the field to claim victory and take overall round honours. McNiven again claimed second with Seton rounding out the podium for todayâ€™s final race.
Grant Doulman and Gavin Yortt were at it again in a fierce battle for eighth while Gold Coast MINI Dealer Beric Lynton was dicing things up with 2010 MINI Challenge Spain winner Javier Villa with Villa eventually getting the better of the Aussie to finish sixth for his final Australian MINI Challenge race.
Zerefos was in the action again but for all the wrong reasons this time when he lost a wheel coming onto the back straight mid-way through the race, with the stray wheel nestling nicely at the far end of the straight for 2 laps before officials had it removed.
Dylan Thomas also came to grief, but before the race had even begun, when he slid into a wall on the out-lap warming up his tyres causing too much front-end damage to his CXC MINI to continue.
With the retirement of Carter after Race 1 Squawking Magpie Wines owner Yortt finished the year fourth overall in the Championship with Carter unfortunately slipping back to fifth.
Seton too advanced to sixth in the Series pushing Cookie back to seventh but it was still a fantastic year for the Transquip Hire driver after three successful years in the category.
DecoRug Racingâ€™s Stokell was solid all year for his second placing in the MINI Challenge series but Mr Consistency Alajajian reigned supreme to be crowned 2010 MINI Challenge Champion!
2010 MINI Challenge Champion Chris Alajajian said:
â€œThis is an amazing feeling Iâ€™m almost lost for words! I really want to thank all my sponsors, my dad, Nigel, friends and family for supporting me this year. I also want to thank the competitors for making this such a fantastic series and giving the MINI Challenge a real family feeling. Consistency this year was key and we didnâ€™t put a foot wrong all year apart from at the Gold Coast, and this was a major factor in our success. The points system this year made racing really close and I think we have showcased the best season out of the three years this series has been run. It would have been nice to sport the number 1 next year but unfortunately tomorrow will be our last ever MINI Challenge race in Australia which is a sad day for such a great product. I really want to thank all the MINI Challenge personnel who made this series so awesome and once again I canâ€™t describe the emotion Iâ€™m feeling for finally winning after two great years of racing.â€