Damien White became the third round winner in as many rounds when he swept to victory in the most hotly contested MINI CHALLENGE race this season, whilst Gary Young (SALTA Constructions) scored his maiden MINI CHALLENGE victory.
The man they call Ice was dynamite, withholding a battle pack of eight cars – at some points up to three wide as they charged around the tight Barbagallo Raceway.
Series leader heading into this round, Grant Denyer (DecoRug Motorsport) continued his consistent run, finishing the round second and collecting another 15kg of success ballast. Adding to his weight tally as well was Neil McFadyen, who finished the round third.
The championship battle between Denyer and McFadyen resembled a 15 round boxing match rather than a 15 lap race, the two see-sawing places and banging doors throughout the encounter. In the end, it was Denyer who was able to come away with the upper hand, his Series lead though remains stagnant at 12 points.
Last round winner, Nathan Geier (Sherrin Rentals) survived a scary incident at turn one with Paul Stokell (DecoRug Motorsport) on lap four, when his yellow MINI mimicked a freestyle motocrosser as he got some serious airtime and was on its side in the air, but came down on all four wheels.
Perth youngster, Todd Fiore (Shell Helix Ultra) had his best race to date in race three, charging through the pack and on lap 12, blasted past Denyer for second. He then went deep under brakes at the final turn – audaciously attempting to pass race leader, White. That move unsettled the 22 year old’s car and he drifted back into fifth placing.
An earlier move by Todd on McFadyen pushed the Sydney-sider back into the clutches of the other Shell Helix Ultra driver – Paul Fiore. McFadyen was able to break away from that eventually.
24 year old Mandurah resident, Nathan Callaghan, impressed all on hand with his display, particularly in race two, when he went deep under brakes on race leader, Gary Young. He wasn’t able to get the job done, eventually crossing the line in that race third after McFadyen snuck through.
Young was ecstatic with his race win for the SALTA Constructions team. The 2007 Australian Performance Cars Champion has been flying under the radar thus far in MINI CHALLENGE and came to the race track today determined to walk away with a decent result. He controlled the pace from the front of the reverse grid race and deserved his race victory.
Paul Stokell’s weekend looked to be turning sour after car troubles in race two saw him drift to the rear of the field, however a solid performance in the final race finishing eighth meant the damage to his Series pointscore wasn’t overly catastrophic.
UBER-STAR CAR driver, Leanne Tander, continued her running battle with David Turner (Glory Constructions). The two – who came together in spectacular fashion yesterday – were at loggerheads in race two again before Tander had a 60 second penalty added to her race time by officials for a start line infringement.
Her aggressiveness shone through in the final race, however, as she charged to a stunning sixth placing.
Turner – who once again had a huge contingent in the Glory Team Racing corporate facility – performed solidly despite an off in race two to avoid colliding with Tander.
Nicholas Stillwell (Stillwell MINI Garage) continued his learning with the MINI CHALLENGE racecar, so too Brisbanite, Darren Berry (Clipper Motor Yachts).
Sydney-sider, Jim Sweeney – who was making his first attempt at Barbagallo Raceway, was involved in a spirited battle with Turner, also Mike Sherrin (Sherrin Equipment) and Berry – whose MINI CHALLENGE education continues.
The spoils though remained with the likable Wollongong resident, White – who has declared he is aiming to complete the rest of the Series. His weekend points haul places him in ninth on the Series points standings.
DAMIEN WHITE - WINNER: “Man, it was damn hot out there. The racing was phenomenal and it was great to battle it out with Grant again. We duked it out at the 12 hour back in February so to be battling with the little man again was just awesome. I was under a lot of pressure – I looked up at one stage and lost count of the cars following me over the hill, but I just love it, it’s the best way to go racing and these things (MINI John Cooper Works CHALLENGE racecar) are wild!”
GRANT DENYER – SECOND: “It was just like the good old Ute days out there with Damo and myself battling it out! There was a lot of bump and grind and I have to apologise to Neil as I did hit him hard at one point. It’s not how I like to go racing, but unfortunately it happened, we were racing so closely together. The racing was just red hot and I’m so happy for this DecoRug Motorsport team that we were able to maintain the points lead after drifting back in the field during the second race.”
NEIL McFADYEN – THIRD: “That was some of the closest, hardest racing I’ve ever done. We gave as good as we got out there, it was just a lot of fun and the fact we maintained our points gap to Grant was not such a bad result. I would have liked to close it a bit, but at least we didn’t lose any points.”
The next round of MINI CHALLENGE will be at Sandown on the June Long Weekend.
Highlights of today’s racing can be seen on the Seven Network on May 31.
POINTS AFTER ROUND 3 of 8 (TOP 10):
1.Grant Denyer – 444
2. Neil McFadyen – 432
3.Paul Stokell – 345
4. Paul Fiore – 330
5. Nathan Geier – 330
6.Gary Young – 288
7.Todd Fiore – 198
8.David Turner – 180
9.Damien White – 156
10. Nathan Callaghan – 138
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