Jason Bargwanna (Trivett Classic MINI Garage/Matchmaster TV Reception Systems) completed the perfect weekend in MINI CHALLENGE at Sandown International Raceway, using the wet conditions to his advantage, taking a dominant race victory by some 10.4 seconds over Neil McFadyen (M3 Motorsport).
McFadyen scorched away from the line and made a decisive move on Grant Denyer (DecoRug Motorsport) during the opening lap. The move was crucial as it secured second placing for the Sydney-sider and stemmed the growth of Denyer’s Series lead – which increased to 30 points across the weekend.
Bargwanna’s lead continued to increase with each lap that passed, his experience around the Sandown International Raceway, particularly in wet conditions, shone through – a salient point acknowledged by even his toughest rivals.
Behind McFadyen, a freight train of up to six cars fought tooth and nail on the damp racetrack for valuable Series points. The two DecoRug machines of Paul Stokell and Grant Denyer had a spirited fight – swapping positions willingly and proving there are no team orders within the DecoRug organisation. Ultimately, the fight was decided in favour of Denyer after a small mistake by Stokell, who overshot a braking zone. Denyer will now collect more success ballast, taking him to the maximum 50kg limit for Phillip Island.
Stokell was able to hold onto fourth placing, despite pressure coming from both Paul Fiore (Shell Helix Ultra) and Nathan Geier (Sherrin Rentals). Geier was able to get some grip on the slippery Sandown race surface at the start and charged into the opening corner. He was deposited to fourth by Stokell – who was making amends after yesterday’s DNF, then fell a further place back when Paul Fiore used the slipstream to his advantage. Todd Fiore (Shell Helix Ultra) put in yet another solid performance, finishing seventh, meanwhile Melbourne local, Gary Young (SALTA Constructions) ranged up to the back of that battle in the dying stages.
On the first lap, one of the stars of yesterday’s events – Nathan Callaghan (Calmack Smash Repairs) was caught up in an incident with Scott Bargwanna (Trivett Classic MINI Garage/Matchmaster). Bargwanna spun and Callaghan was the innocent victim spearing backwards into the sand trap. Both re-entered the fray, Bargwanna came back to finish 14th, whilst Callaghan sprinted to a ninth placed finish – enough to secure him fourth for the round – the same position as he finished in Perth.
MINI CHALLENGE UBER-STAR CAR driver for this round, Paul Mercurio had a fantastic run following on from yesterday’s performance and spent much of the race dicing with Nick Stillwell (Bib Stillwell MINI Garage). Ultimately, Mercurio finished 13th – a fantastic effort in his first time behind the wheel of the car. Stillwell won that particular battle of the brothers when he went on to finish 11th, just behind David Turner (Glory Team Racing) whose day included an off track excursion. The elder Stillwell – Michael – had a far better day today after yesterday’s meeting with the fence, finishing the race in 15th.
Sprintcar star Todd Wanless – who is about to head across to the USA for his first racing tour – is still coming to grips with the Motorline MINI Garage car, finishing today’s event 12th. It was a similar story for Michael Sherrin (15th – Sherrin Rentals), Darren Berry (who suffered a spin in the Clipper Motor Yachts car) and Brendan Cook (Terex Cranes) in just his first ever race meeting.
But it was all about Bargwanna – he is the first driver to complete a clean sweep of MINI CHALLENGE – besting the field in every single session throughout the weekend and the perfect way to debut the new Bargwanna Motorsport team.
The Series now turns to Phillip Island across the weekend of September 21-24 when MINI CHALLENGE supports the L&H 500 V8 Supercar endurance race.
WHAT THEY SAID:
JASON BARGWANNA (1st): “Having done a few wet races at Sandown in the past, it really helped me out today in the conditions. These MINI racecars are amazing to drive, particularly in the wet conditions. We are excited to bring two new sponsors to the sport in Trivett Classic MINI Garage and Matchmaster TV Reception Systems. We always try and do the best for our supporters and in this case, we have got off to the best possible start for them.”
GRANT DENYER (2nd): “I really found it difficult coming into the MINI having driven in the V8 Supercar Development Series race earlier in the day (which he duly won!). Today for me was about protecting the Series lead and we were able to actually increase it, which was a great result. I’m really enjoying my time in the Series and being able to fight with Bargs – who I partnered in last year’s endurance races is just fantastic!”
NEIL MCFADYEN (3rd): “I’m very happy with the result, being able to finish in third spot is a great reward for the team. They have done a magnificent job in preparing our race car. Hopefully this may be able to stimulate some interest from sponsors so that we can keep moving forward and work towards our goal – which is to win the Series. Phillip Island is a place that I’ve been to a few times and I’m aiming to be right up there again.”
SERIES POINTS AFTER ROUND 4 (Top 20):
1. Grant Denyer 594
2. Neil McFadyen 564
3. Paul Stokell 429
4. Nathan Geier 420
5. Paul Fiore 414
6. Gary Young 351
7. Todd Fiore 282
8. Nathan Callaghan 243
9. David Turner 216
10. Jason Bargwanna 180
11. Damien White 156
12. Darren Berry 129
13. Iain Sherrin 117
14. Nick Stillwell 114
15. Michael Stillwell 93
16. Scott Bargwanna 69
17. Michael Sherrin 66
18. Damien Flack 60
19. Chris Oxley 54
19. Ricky Occhipinti 54
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