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2011 Spanish Grand Prix in pictures

2011 Spanish Grand Prix

Despite being teased by our own Mark Webber when he scored pole position, the Spanish GP ended up being yet another Sebastian Vettel victory. That’s four from five races for the 2010 champ and history suggests that impressive start is already enough to put Vettel at almost unbackable odds to make it a second world crown.

As usual there’s some great pics from the latest race and there’s a couple of shots where you can see how dramatic the marbles are with the new Pirelli tyres.

We’re already in another Grand Prix week with the classic Monaco GP just a few days away. Can Mark match his unstoppable performance from 2010, or is he fast becoming a broken man with shattered confidence?

MINI Challenge

Mixed bag for Team Australia in Spain

MINI Challenge Team Australia

Earlier in the month Chris Alajajian and Paul Stokell jetted over to Madrid to represent Australia in the Spanish MINI Challenge. The racing took place at the Jarama circuit and there was a three race format; two sprint races on the Saturday and a 50 minute race on Sunday. The results were encouraging, but ultimately disappointing.

Current Australian MINI Challenge series leader Chris Alajajian managed an impressive fourth place in the first race. In the second race Stokell qualified sixth and despite a good start his car suffered minor damage, including a punctured tyre, after being hit from behind. Time in the pits replacing the tyre was costly and he lost a lap on the leaders and finished in 19th place.

The guys had shown they had the pace to mix it with the front runners, so maybe the Sunday race, which included a compulsory driver change, would bring better luck. Sadly this wasn’t the case.

Stokell started the race from 11th on the grid and was making good progress until he was t-boned by a “kamikaze” move from one of the younger competitors in the field. Worse was to come when Stokell received a black flag costing Team Australia valuable time. Things didn’t improve when the team’s scheduled driver change had to be delayed due a Safety Car period. This left Alajajian with just a few laps of racing and in the end Team Australia came home in 11th place.

Regardless of the misfortune during the racing Ted Toleman, MINI Challenge Australia Category Manager, felt the experience was a positive one and hopes there is more overseas action to come, “Despite mixed results both Paul and Chris did a fantastic job representing Australia in the Spanish version of MINI Challenge racing.

“The assistance and help given to our drivers by MINI Challenge Spain personnel was superb and we thank them for supporting the guys on this great opportunity. The experience gained by both drivers in the left-hand-drive R56 and on a world renowned racetrack is truly invaluable and I look forward to further events overseas.”

MINI Challenge Australia action returns at the Townsville 400 on 9–11 July.

MINI Challenge

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.


A look at the Audi Q5 from the inside

Audi Q5

Audi’s new Q5 will be making its first Australian appearance at the Melbourne International Motor Show later this month. A select few, however, have already sampled the Q5, and, in sunny Spain of all places. How did one get in on this all expenses paid junket? By being a member of Audi Australia sales staff, that’s how.

Jonathan from Audi Centre Canberra has been a great supporter of AUSmotive, so I figured it was only fair to return the favour by asking him for a brief writeup of his experience at the internal Q5 launch from Marbella on the Costa Del Sol. Life’s tough for some!

The Q5 will go on sale down under in just a few months and initial pricing details have been confirmed. In the meantime, you can have a sneak preview of the car by reading Jonathan’s words after the jump. There’s also quite a few images, and promo piece from the Audi Channel via YouTube.