Race weekends brimming with tension on renowned South-American circuits, combined with the lifestyle and parties so typical of MINI, and about which drivers, teams and fans are still talking weeks later: the MINI Challenge series in Argentina and Brazil offer more than just high-class motorsport. They are an attitude to life.
Back in March, the MINI Challenge Argentina season got underway with exciting races at the La Plata Race Track. In the MINI Challenge’s second season in Argentina, having made its debut in 2011, the motivation among the drivers was clear to see from the outset. Having seen Brazil’s guest starter Patrick Gonçalves secure his place in the history books as the series’ first champion in 2011, the “Gauchos” were now desperate to make amends and show what they were capable of.
It soon became clear that there was to be no beating Patricio “Pato” Morelli in the number 24 MINI John Cooper Works Challenge. Pato not only won the opening event in La Plata, but also went on to triumph at another four rounds. Add to that two runner-up spots, and Pato had soon pulled away from his closest rival in the overall standings, Richard Stuart Milne at the wheel of the number 11 MINI Challenge. With 143 points to his name and a gap of 36 points over second place, Pato was deservedly crowned MINI Challenge Argentina champion at the end of the season.
There was one event, at which Pato did not take centre stage, despite him once again emerging triumphant. At the race in Buenos Aires, which shared the bill with the “Turismo Nacional” series, fans were able to check out former Argentinean football international Martin Palermo and many other celebrities at the circuit. No problem for Pato, who picked up the championship points and was able to look back on an extremely positive year: “It was a fantastic season for me. In the end, it was harder to win than the individual race results would have you believe. The field was very strong. I am now looking forward to the 2013 season, when I will be in the role of the hunted.”
Genz and de Castilho go head-to-head in title race.
Meanwhile, a few thousand kilometres further north, Vitor Gaucho Genz was causing a stir. Throughout the MINI Challenge Brazil season, which started in March in Sao Paulo, he was embroiled in an exciting duel with Mario Jose de Castilho. For six race weekends the duo thrilled fans at Brazilian circuits with stunning head-to-head battles, matching each other step for step as they pulled away at the top of the overall standings.
Only at the penultimate round of the season in Taruma, which formed part of the “Copa Caixa Stock Car” event, was the winner eventually determined. Vitor picked up the points he needed to secure the title in the 2012 MINI Challenge Brazil. As such, there was not so much to play for at the final race of the year in Curitiba, but anyone who opted to stay at home missed a fantastic party and a dazzling end to the season. As we said: the MINI Challenge is about more than just high-class motorsport.[Source: MINI]