Local driver, Paul Fiore (Shell Helix Ultra) took his second MINI CHALLENGE victory at Barbagallo Raceway today, however the incident packed 15 lap race was marred by a single car rollover involving former Wallaby, Ben Tune.
Tune – driving a second MINI CHALLENGE UBER-STAR CAR – came across the rise heading toward the final turn on the Barbagallo Raceway, before losing control on the damp circuit on lap seven. His MINI dug into the soft ground and rolled onto its roof.
The former Wallabies and Queensland Reds winger was extracted from the racecar by on-track medical officials and was transported to Joondalup Hospital where he underwent precautionary scans. More information relating to his condition will be released at a later time.
The race was red flagged and then restarted after a break of approximately half an hour, where Fiore took the win from Nathan Geier (Sherrin Rentals) and Grant Denyer (DecoRug Motorsport).
Part one of the event was action-packed before even getting to turn one. Changeable conditions greeted drivers, with isolated showers making tyre choice a lottery, all competitors electing to enter the race with Dunlop slick tyres.
Local hope, David Turner (Glory Constructions) came together with Leanne Tander (UBER-STAR CAR) and both were stranded on the infield.
Round two winner, Nathan Geier was lucky not to t-bone one of the spinning cars. The incident brought out the first Safety Car of the Australian MINI CHALLENGE.
Once back under green, Neil McFadyen (Scope Signs & Graphics) came together with Todd Fiore (Shell Helix Ultra) whilst attempting to pass the youngster at Kolb Corner, Fiore spinning into the gravel trap. He did well to re-enter the racetrack, despite having his front spoiler dangling.
After the break to extricate Tune, the restarted event saw a major battle take place for the minor placings, up to six drivers swapping positions at will.
The battle involved pole-sitter, Damien White, Geier, Paul Stokell (DecoRug Motorsport), his team-mate Denyer, Paul Fiore, Nathan Callaghan (Calmack Smash Repairs) and McFadyen, enthralling the large and vocal crowd on hand.
Ultimately though, Fiore was able to hold onto the race lead and score a huge win in front of a big contingent of friends and family, defeating Geier by 0.22 seconds.
Third went to Series leader, Denyer, with White, Callaghan, Stokell and McFadyen rounding out the top seven. A little further back was Garry Young (SALTA Constructions), Todd Fiore and Nicholas Stillwell finalised the top 10.
Darren Berry (Clipper Motor Yachts), Mike Sherrin (Sherrin Equipment) and Jim Sweeney completed the finishers.
This morning, former double V8 Ute Champion, Damien White, qualified on pole in his first visit to Barbagallo. In incredibly wet conditions, the entertaining qualifying session saw provisional pole swap between White, David Turner and Nathan Callaghan. Whilst further down the order for much of the session, Tander slotted the second quickest time in the last couple of minutes.
Despite a late run in the session, Turner was unable to do anything about the top two.
Race two will be covered during the Seven Network’s V8 Supercar coverage tomorrow at (approximately) 3:10pm, where the Network will cross live to Grant Denyer inside his MINI CHALLENGE racer – the first time a mid-race cross (under green conditions) has been performed in some 10 years.
The final race will round out the weekend tomorrow afternoon. Highlights of all three races can be seen on the Seven Network on Saturday May 31.
The thoughts and prayers of the entire MINI CHALLENGE family are with Ben Tune and his wife Gail following Ben’s incident today. Everyone wishes him a speedy recovery. More information about his condition will be released when available.
PAUL FIORE: “It’s huge to win in front of the home town crowd like that. It was a great race and I was under a lot of pressure from the guys behind. It was pretty similar to Wakefield Park when I won there, actually. It’s always great to take a win, but to do it on the home track is fantastic. The race was full on from the start and there was plenty of action happening out there. The weather and damp track made that even more interesting. Tomorrow will be great, we’re starting off grid six though, so I have a bit of work to do and the weather if it remains like this will play a part in what happens. Naturally though, tonight my thoughts are with Ben after his incident.”
PHOTOS: Attached is a (low resolution) sequence of the startline incident involving David Turner (#10) and Leanne Tander (#25). Other cars lucky not to be caught up include Nathan Callaghan (#9) and pole sitter, Damien White (#18). High resolution copies of these photographs are available from Matt Payne at the below contacts. Photos by Dirk Klynsmith.
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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