Invercargill, NZ, is infamous for being the home of the legendary Bert Munro who set Land Speed records on his 1920 Indian Motorcycle at Bonneville, and was immortalised on the film ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe WorldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Fastest IndianÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â starring Anthony Hopkins.
The MINI Challenge arrived at the Teretonga Park racing circuit near Invercargill for round six of seven rounds, so the pressure was on amongst all the drivers to retain or better their positions.
It was the first time the seventeen MINI Cooper S cars have raced on the 2.57 kilometre circuit which is the pride and joy of the Southland Sports Car Club.
NZ MINI Challenge 2007
Saturday March 10th and March 11th 2007
It was battle of wits in the first race of the MINI Challenge at Teretonga Park this afternoon that saw young driver Anthony Pedersen take his second win in New ZealandÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s newest one make racing series this season.
Driving the JA Russell MINI, 17 year old rookie Pedersen tailed Brent ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBonesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Collins in the PDL MINI from the start of the eight lap race followed by Motorsport Services driver Kevin Cantwell in the Visual Group MINI.
Pedersen clung onto Bones like a limpet but the older more experienced racer held his position defensively for the first seven laps in the hot and dry Southland conditions.
However on the penultimate lap Bones made a gear change error, selecting fifth rather than third which allowed Pedersen and Cantwell past him one lap before the chequered flag.
This left Bones in third place with Peter Sharmach in the Diggalink WPS MINI in fourth place tailed by ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œFast EddieÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Bell who had battled the ESWA MINI up to fifth place from his starting place of seventh.
Rotorua student Pedersen was elated with his win in his first outing on the 2.57 kilometre Teretonga Park circuit:
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI really enjoyed that race and am very happy to be back in the points, said the 17-year-old. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBrent raced really well and it was only his mistake that allowed me to get past.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Kevin Cantwell was also surprised that he had the ability to get past Collins:
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t get the greatest start off the line, thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s when Collins and Pedersen got past me and I had Sharmach in my mirrors for most of the race,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Cantwell. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBut my car felt great and when Collins made his error, I had the momentum to get past him, so I am very pleased with my second placing.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
When approached Bones was quietly philosophical: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt was the economy drive option, so I shall just have to make amends tomorrow. The weight differential certainly shows here, Pedersen certainly had me in his sights during those first few laps.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Gavin ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe EnforcerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Dawson brought the Scalextric MINI home in sixth position, tailed by seventh placed Gary Johnstone in the Hendrix MINI and Motorsport Services driver Will Selles took eighth place in the Teng Tools MINI.
Dawson commented that the first race became somewhat of a procession after the first lap when he was passed by Peter Sharmach.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œEddie and I both managed to get past Gary Johnstone, but it was a case of preserving our tyres on a fast heating track,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Dawson.
It was different story earlier today when the cooler track conditions saw Kevin Cantwell spin off and put the Visual Group MINI into the gravel at Teretonga Park.
Cantwell commented that his tyres took a while to warm up in the cold but dry conditions. Cantwell set the fastest time of 1:08.567 on his fifth qualifying lap.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe car felt very smooth and is quite suited to the corners and the sweeper,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Cantwell. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt was interesting to watch the top three drivers in front of me; they all took quite different driving lines through the sweeper.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe track really seems to suit the MINI Cooper S, so hopefully we will see some good racing during the weekend.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Brent Collins qualified second fastest in the PDL MINI putting him beside Cantwell for the start of race one.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWho ever thought that a MINI Cooper S could do a 1.08 lap around Teretonga Park, when the V8s lap it in 1.04,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Collins.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI was confident that we could be at the pointy end of the field and we wereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦it was a bloody good feeling after previous outings have been less than what we hoped for.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThis has got to be the best circuit in the country; I always enjoy racing here.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Anthony Pedersen in the J A Russell MINI who took third fastest time in front of Gary Johnstone from Christchurch who put the Hendrix MINI onto fourth place on the grid.
Peter Sharmach took fifth fastest time this morning in the baby Blue Diggalink WPS MINI with Gavin Dawson behind him putting the Scalextric MINI onto sixth place in the starting grid.
It was a disappointed championship leader Eddie Bell who finished seventh fastest in the ESWA MINI this morning. Bell commented that with only .384 of a second between the top seven drivers, it was going to be a closely run race.
NZ MINI Challenge – Race One results
Pos MINI# Name Hometown Best Time
1 96 Anthony Pedersen Rotorua 1.09.147
2 6 Kevin Cantwell Auckland +0.079
3 44 Brent Collins Timaru +1.267
Races Two and Three MINI Challenge Sunday March 11th, 2007.
Young gun Anthony Pedersen took two wins and a second place in his J A Russell MINI winning this weekendÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s sixth round of the 2007 MINI Challenge at Teretonga Park near Invercargill.
After being doused in champagne by Gavin ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe EnforcerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Dawson and Peter Sharmach who were second and third respectively for the round, an elated Pedersen thanked his supporters and sponsors:
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s been the best round of my racing career so far, without a doubt,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said the 17 year Rotorua student. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI am stoked and elated, itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s been a great way to say thank you to the International Motorsport team and my sponsors for their support this season.
Pedersen won race three of the MINI Challenge this afternoon after getting past Gavin Dawson in the Scalextric MINI on lap three and dominating the 12 lap race until the chequered flag. Dawson placed second while defending off a hard charging championship leader ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œFast EddieÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Bell in the ESWA MINI who took third place.
Bell who maintains his leadership status in the championship was followed home in this afternoons MINI Challenge race three by Brent ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBonesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Collins in the PDL MINI who took fourth place.
Peter SharmachÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s baby blue Diggalink WPS MINI stayed on the track for most of race three taking fifth place in front of Richard Moore in the Scutum MINI who had a hairy off track moment onto the grass on the sweeper, but recovered to come home in sixth place.
Race two always sees a reverse grid of the fastest six cars from qualifying or race one from Saturday which saw Gavin Dawson on pole position beside Peter Sharmach followed by Gary Johnstone in the Hendrix MINI on position three alongside yesterdayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s race one winner Anthony Pedersen on position four.
Brent Collins took fifth position on the grid alongside Motorsport Services driver Kevin Cantwell on position six in the Visual MINI who placed second in race one yesterday.
Eddie Bell was seventh on the starting grid with Richard Moore on position eight for race two.
Because the top six drivers in the MINI Challenge points table were amongst the top eight starting positions for this race the battle to get around the first corner cleanly was going to be hard fought.
Dawson got a clean start flying away in the Scalextric MINI while the experienced Peter Sharmach held second place but Anthony Pedersen got through past Johnstone to third place, Collins too come through to fourth and Kevin Cantwell found himself in fifth.
While Dawson kept his cool up front, Sharmach made an error early in race two allowing Pedersen through to second place.
The young driver in the J A Russell MINI stayed hard on the tailpipe of DawsonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Scalextric MINI but ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe EnforcerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â held his line all the way to the chequered flag of race two.
Behind Dawson and Pedersen, Peter Sharmach and Brent Collins were having a good old fashioned dog fight with neither party letting up.
Behind them Motorsport Services Driver Kevin Cantwell was having a very good run in the Visual Group MINI keeping a good distance in front of championship leader Eddie Bell who finished race two in sixth place.
Unfortunately not everybody enjoyed good fortune in race two, Motorsport Services team members Will Selles and David Grigor touched each other at the end of the straight ending up in the kitty litter and were unable to finish the race.
After race two was over Dawson commented that he was very happy with the fast flowing Teretonga Park circuit which he said suited the supercharged MINI Cooper S cars which are fitted with John Cooper Works race kits.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a fantastic circuit here at Teretonga Park, it flows very nicely indeed and I have enjoyed my weekends racing here,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Dawson. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œRoll on Pukekohe in April.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
NZ MINI Challenge results 11/03/07 Teretonga Park
Race Two :
Pos MINI # Name Hometown Best Time
1 50 Gavin Dawson Auckland 1.08.821
2 96 Anthony Pedersen Rotorua +0.999
3 27 Peter Sharmach Germany +1.524
Race Three :
Position MINI# Name Hometown Best Time
1 96 Anthony Pedersen Rotorua 1.09.792
2 50 Gavin Dawson Auckland +0.888
3 69 Eddie Bell North Canterbury +1.437
This release was prepared on behalf of MINI Challenge 2007 (www.minichallenge.co.nz). For more information please contact Robert Barry on 021 784 771 email email@example.com.