Having been confronted with the foreboding sight of All Black legend, Jonah Lomu coming at him at full pelt on many occasions, World Champion Wallaby winger, Ben Tune is accustomed to mountainous challenges. Over the weekend of May 9-11 at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth, it will be a MINI CHALLENGE he faces, lining up for his second motor race in the UBER-STAR CAR.
Tune – who swept to victory with the Wallabies against France in the World Cup in 1999 – has 46 national team caps to his credit and was known as one of the most prolific try scorers in the sport. He crossed the line for the Australian national team on 24 occasions – unquestionably the most important being the try to secure the Wallabies their first World Cup victory at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
“I’m definitely excited about it,” Tune said. “It isn’t every day you have an invitation to get behind the wheel of a racecar. I’m really looking forward to having a lot of fun while I’m in Perth, but also I hope to develop further as a driver.”
The challenge that Ben faces in Perth isn’t ‘mini’ in nature by any means – it will be just his second race meeting and the first time he will drive a racecar on slick Dunlop tyres. The MINI CHALLENGE cars are racecars in the truest sense and will approach their maximum speed of up to 240 kilometres an hour at Barbagallo Raceway – some would say a similar speed to which Tune burst onto a Tim Horan pass in his heyday!
Tune is a noted revhead and has business interests importing a range of accessories for the motoring market.
“I love my cars and motorbikes, so to be up close to a Series as professional as MINI CHALLENGE will be a fantastic experience and competing on the same track as the V8 Supercars is something that not many people get to do, so it is a fantastic opportunity,” he added.
Since the advent of a Super Rugby franchise – the Western Force – in Perth, the profile of Rugby and its stars has risen exponentially in the Western capital.
“The membership and general support the Force has gained in Perth shows they love their Rugby in Western Australia. I’d love to see Rugby fans coming out and supporting us at Barbagallo, I just hope they don’t expect too much from me!”
MINI CHALLENGE is the newest addition to the Australian motor racing scene, being the first country in the world to utilise the new R56 model MINI John Cooper Works CHALLENGE racecars. The UBER-STAR CAR Tune will race has been designed to bring a new audience to motorsport at each round through the inclusion of a high profile personality in the areas of sport, entertainment or media.
MINI CHALLENGE has attracted many big names in Australian motorsport, including Seven Network personality – Grant Denyer – who heads into the third round of the Series leading by 12 points, former Gold Star Champions, Neil McFadyen (Scope Signs and Graphics) and Paul Stokell (Denyer’s team-mate at DecoRug Motorsport), along with a number of local competitors in Perth, including former State Champions, David Turner (Glory Team Racing) and Paul Fiore, who along with his brother, Todd races in the Shell Helix Ultra/Brisbane MINI Garage racing team.
Ben Tune’s MINI CHALLENGE performance will be captured live on Sunday May 11, when race two is featured as part of the Seven Network’s V8 Supercars coverage and again on May 31 when a highlights package will air nationally on Seven.
MINI CHALLENGE features practice, qualifying and three races throughout the weekend.
2008 MINI CHALLENGE CALENDAR:
Round 1: March 7-9 – Eastern Creek, Sydney, NSW (Round Winner: Neil McFadyen)
Round 2: April 4-6 – Wakefield Park, Goulburn, NSW* (Round Winner: Nathan Geier)
Round 3: May 9-11 – Barbagallo, Perth, WA
Round 4: June 7-9 – Sandown, Melbourne, Vic
Round 5: September 12-14 – Phillip Island, Vic
Round 6: October 9-12 – Mount Panorama, Bathurst, NSW
Round 7: November 21-23 – Symmons Plains, Tasmania
Round 8: December 4-7 – Oran Park, Sydney, NSW
*Denotes V8 Supercar Development Series round
MINI CHALLENGE POINTS STANDINGS (Top 10 – after 2 of 8 rounds):
1 Grant Denyer 306
2 Neil McFadyen 294
3 Nathan Geier 282
4 Paul Stokell 270
5 Paul Fiore 252
6 Gary Young 174
7 Dave Turner 144
8 Iain Sherrin 117
9 Todd Fiore 105
10 Michael Stillwell 81
Round 3 – Barbagallo Raceway – LIVE TV: Race Two, Sunday, May 11 (Seven Network)
Round 3 Highlights: Saturday, May 31 – 1:30pm (Nationally) (Seven Network)
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