The gloves finally come off in the MINI Challenge.
The gloves were literally flying off in race two of the MINI Challenge at Ruapuna this weekend as the drivers took to the circuit like a pack of Canterbury Rugby football forwards.
Starting positions for race two were determined by the fastest times in qualifying session or race one which saw CanterburyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Wayne Timms in the IDL MINI #30 on pole position alongside Timaru driver Brent Collins in the PDL MINI #44.
Behind Timms and Collins were Peter Sharmach in MINI #27, Gavin Dawson in the Scalextric MINI #52 and Eddie Bell in the ESWA MINI #69.
So with that competitive pack up front, it was a given that there would be a battle off the start line for the first left hander called Prison Bend.
Sure enough Collins took no prisoners at the bend taking a contact touch from Sharmach in MINI #27, but held his position while the German had Eddie BellÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ESWA MINI #69 in his rear view mirror, followed closely by Timms in the IDL MINI #30.
Unfortunately on that same first lap Tony Houston in the G J Gardner MINI # 88 made contact with team mate Jeff Hogg in the Opti-Flex MINI #3 on the infield, pushing him into the tyre wall.
The Safety car was immediately despatched whilst a bruised and disappointed Hogg extricated himself from his damaged car.
After several laps under the safety car Collins then took off to convincingly win the six-lap race followed by Eddie Bell who had overtaken a slowing Sharmach.
Sharmach had suffered damage but limped home into third with a relieved Wayne Timms holding onto fourth place despite his whining gearbox.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt was a bloody good race and I am stoked with the result,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â says Collins. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe contact with Peter had slowed me down somewhat, and it was a shame to have two cars off in the infieldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦but thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s life in Motorsport.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
German international Sharmach was equally philosophical:
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI suffered some contact damage in the first corner, which damaged the cars suspension and one tyre was almost coming off its rimÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â says Sharmach. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI was having difficulty steering and couldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t get into fifth gear at all, so I was very happy to finish the race in such a good position.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Anthony Pedersen in the J.A Russell MINI #96 came home in fifth place followed by Will Selles in MINI #2 having survived a contact from Gavin Dawson who received a drive through penalty for this misdemeanour.
Gary Johnstone in the Hendrix MINI #52 also came a cropper in the earlier melee but was able to repair his car for the second race of the day, while Hogg was declared medically unfit by the Ambulance crew and decided he would rather watch it from the MINI DriverÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Garage.
It was not to be as the weather closed in on Ruapuna, the torrential rain created carnage in the 20 lap Parker Enzed NZV8 race, so the Canterbury Car Club officials wisely declared the meeting abandoned.
Despite not being able to see a third MINI Challenge race in the Ruapuna round two, MINI New Zealand Manager Peter Jarratt was pleased with the weekendÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s results:
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œA tighter technical circuit like Ruapuna really does lend itself to excellent racing in the MINI Challenge as we saw in the first two races,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â says Mr Jarratt. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a pity that the meeting was abandoned due to inclement weather, but driver safety is of course our paramount concern.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Race One MINI Challenge Ruapuna Sunday November 25th 2007.
Position Driver Hometown
1) Eddie Bell North Canterbury
2) +2.649 Will Selles Auckland.
3) +3.498 Peter Sharmach Germany.
Race Two MINI Challenge Ruapuna Sunday November 26th 2007.
Position Driver Hometown
1) Brent Collins Timaru
2) +0.401 Eddie Bell North Canterbury
3) +2.729 Peter Sharmach Germany
Fastest time: Race Two – Eddie Bell, 1:39.693.
This release was prepared on behalf of MINI Challenge 2006. For more information please contact Robert Barry on 027 640 1376 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.