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Perth's MINI Challenge Competitors Defending their Turf - (Australia)

May 9th, 2008



 

If current MINI CHALLENGE Series leader – Seven Network personality, Grant Denyer (DecoRug Motorsport) – was expecting a warm welcome at Barbagallo Raceway this weekend, he can think again, say the West Australian competitors in the Series.

David Turner (Glory Constructions), along with racing brothers - Paul and Todd Fiore (Shell Helix Ultra) – have torn the welcome sign down at the Wanneroo circuit and expect the massive local crowd to be right behind their efforts as they attempt to claw their way up the leader board in the eight round Series.

They will be joined by local endurance racing specialist, 24-year-old Nathan Callaghan (Calmack Smash Repairs) – who has completed two Sepang and two Bathurst 12 Hour events. The Mandurah resident will join the existing three drivers with a big support crew on hand.

“It’s our home race and we fully intend to show those East Coasters the way around,” said the outspoken Turner – who officially launches Glory Team Racing’s MINI CHALLENGE effort tonight at Auto Classic MINI Garage. “We aim to be right up the front and I think that if we weren’t on the podium, it would be extremely disappointing and I’m sure the other boys are the same.”

Paul Fiore, who took his maiden race win at Wakefield Park during round two and went on to finish third for the round is riding a wave of confidence heading into the race on his home circuit.

“We all know Barbagallo like the back of our hand and I expect that all three of us will be tough to beat,” the 25-year-old said. “The Shell Helix Ultra team did a sensational job at Wakefield Park getting me up on the podium; I know what it’s like to win a race in these cars now and want to go to that next level. Barbagallo could be the time and place.”

22-year-old Todd Fiore is a little further down the Series order, however a solid points haul at Wakefield Park has laid the platform for the youngest racing Fiore brother to advance forward at home.

“I think many of those who haven’t been to Barbagallo before will find it difficult,” he said. “We have a bit of pressure on us, if only for the fact we’ll have plenty of mates on the hill that will line up to give us a bit of stick if we don’t come home with a big result!”

Much interest is centering around the UBER-STAR CAR program, which will see Leanne Tander and former Wallabies winger, Ben Tune enter the Series just for this round. Tander will be busy, keeping an eye on husband, Garth’s progress in V8 Supercars, whilst Tune is out to enjoy the experience of just his second full race meeting.

Joining the fray for this round will be double V8 Ute Champion – Damien White – who is intrigued by the challenge that will face him before even entering the race circuit.

“Well, being 6’3” tall, it will be an interesting exercise just getting into the car,” the Wollongong (NSW) based driver laughed. “I started racing in small hatchbacks that were a similar size to the MINI, so after performing a few contortions to get into the car, I should be right!”

Also making their MINI CHALLENGE debuts this weekend will be Mike Sherrin (Sherrin Equipment), Nicholas Stillwell (Bib Stillwell MINI Garage) and multiple Australian Speedway Champion, Todd Wanless. Mike has raced a MINI in Targa Tasmania and the Mount Buller Sprint in the past and despite a lack of track time at Barbagallo Raceway, is expected to translate his experience from GT racing well to the 210 horsepower MINI John Cooper Works CHALLENGE racecar.

Nicholas Stillwell is used to his MINI racing being somewhat older than the state-of-the-art race machine. Nicholas – who is deputising for brother, Michael, this round is a noted historic racer.

Wanless makes his return to tar racing after an absence of nearly three years.

Much interest this weekend will centre on the battle between last round winner, Nathan Geier (Sherrin Rentals) and Paul Stokell (DecoRug Motorsport). Stokell – the triple Gold Star Australian Champion, looked to have round two all but sewn up until a mechanical gremlin halted his progress at Wakefield Park, handing the win to Geier – the young firebrand of MINI CHALLENGE. Eyes will be trained on round one winner, Neil McFadyen, who was unable to repeat Eastern Creek’s success at Wakefield Park and he’s hoping that his striking new yellow paintscheme – which features the 8-ball motif on the roof – will see an upturn in fortunes in Perth.

All in all, the three races across the weekend will add shape to the MINI CHALLENGE Series points chase. It is looking as though this round will be the most competitive yet.

Race two of the three race program this weekend will be shown live on the Seven Network on Sunday afternoon (approximately 3:10pm nationally) and a post produced highlights package will air on Seven on May 31.

Practice begins for MINI CHALLENGE tomorrow at Barbagallo Raceway at 8:50am with a second practice session occurring at 10:50am before qualifying and race one on Saturday.

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

TV SCHEDULE:

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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