Although the MINI CHALLENGE racecars are rugged up in front of the heater enjoying their hibernation until the L&H 500, Phillip Island – September 12-14, their owners and the category have been far from idle.
Everyone has been busy preparing for the four huge upcoming events – including the ‘big one’ – the return of MINI to Mount Panorama in support of the Supercheap Auto 1000 – October 9-12.
Just some of the activities that the MINI CHALLENGERS have been involved with include:
* Nick Stillwell underwent realignment surgery on his shoulder earlier this week. Aside from being a dab hand behind the wheel of his Bib Stillwell MINI Garage MINI CHALLENGE racer, Stillwell was a professional snowboarder – coaching and racing in the United States for around 10 years.
* Queensland MINI CHALLENGE racer, Todd Wanless, returned to more familiar territory in the USA over the past week, beginning his first US racing tour. He started out strongly finishing fifth at Huset’s Speedway in South Dakota. Wanless then went on to the Brad Doty Classic at Limaland, Ohio. Up against the cream of world Sprintcar competition, Wanless rolled in his heat race and didn’t advance from the B-Main, finishing 11th. A highlight was out-qualifying World of Outlaws hotshots, Craig Dollansky and Daryn Pittman. His tour will continue over the next week before heading back to Australia to prepare for round five of MINI CHALLENGE at Phillip Island.
* Scott Bargwanna is another filling a familiar race seat, jumping back behind the wheel of his Australian GT Championship Lotus at Eastern Creek this weekend.
* Over the coming weeks, DecoRug Motorsport – that operates cars for both Grant Denyer and Paul Stokell in MINI CHALLENGE – will have a ‘roving road show’ throughout Sydney, taking in a number of shopping centres where DecoRug stores are located. They also have a major product launch coming up in early August that the DecoRug MINI CHALLENGE racers will play a key role in.
* Motorline MINI Garage’s team will be busy over the coming few weeks. The Daisy Hill based dealer will have its car at a diverse number of events in the near future spreading the word about MINI CHALLENGE through Queensland. Everything from a University Open Day, to a Polo Match and a ‘MINI Muster’ will see the black and green machines make a visit.
* MINI CHALLENGE officials have extended an invitation to International MINI CHALLENGE racers to come to Australia and compete at Bathurst as part of the Supercheap Auto 1000 support card. With MINI CHALLENGE rapidly growing in profile throughout the world, Series organisers are hopeful of attracting some international interest for the marque’s return to the Mountain, some 42 years after Bob Holden and Rauno Aaltonen led a nine MINI domination of the Gallaher 500.
* 24-year-old MINI CHALLENGE star, Nathan Callaghan, will return to Malaysia for the Sepang 12 Hour race, where he will race a Proton in the event on the weekend of August 29-31. He has ‘rocked around the clock’ at the Malaysian Grand Prix venue twice before. Callaghan made a huge impression from the two rounds he competed in MINI CHALLENGE and is currently working on securing funding for the remainder of 2008.
* MINI CHALLENGE has begun planning for the 2009 season with representatives from MINI. Series Management has earmarked a number of events they would like to compete at and will open dialog with V8 Supercars Australia to finalise the calendar in the coming weeks.
* Next weekend, the German MINI CHALLENGE Series resumes at the Formula 1™ German Grand Prix, Hockenheim. It is the Series’ only F1 appearance this year, having already raced at the Nurburgring 24 Hour race in May. A1 Team Netherlands racer, Jeroen Bleekemolen has been a regular in the Series.
* Interest in MINI CHALLENGE continues to grow, with a number of drivers attempting to secure the budget for the remainder of 2008 and more looking for 2009. It is the perfect time to get involved in the Series – in all, there are 25 MINI CHALLENGE racecars in Australia and MINI has capped the Team’s Agreement (franchise) fee at $5,000, plus GST for the remainder of 2008.
* Not to be outdone by just about everyone in the world, MINI CHALLENGE now has its own corner of the Facebook universe. Look up the ‘Aussie MINI CHALLENGE Army’ on the social networking site.
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