Official MINI Australia Press Release: MINI will race heart-rates off the clock around Australia when a grid full of potent MINI Cooper S hardtops catapult the 2008 MINI Challenge Series into the very-fast lane.

A swarm of angry bees or nest of exceedingly disturbed vipers would pale into insignificance compared with the swashbuckling bump-and-grind apex arguments that will divide the victorious from the vanquished in this modern-day joust between multitudes of jostling knights in shining armour.

Testosterone levels will reach critical as MINI Challenge visits eight of the most exciting tracks across all Australian States and Territories.

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport has given the go-ahead for the MINI Challenge one make series to kick off in Australia in 2008, when the brand new R56 generation MINI Challenge race cars will have their international motorsport debut.

The MINI Challenge category manager is now in discussion with V8 Supercars Australia with a view to the Series running on the V8 Supercars calendar.

Australia’s MINI Challenge cars will be built to a global racing specification in Germany in late 2007 and will feature a fully integrated roll-cage, race seat, and FIA-spec safety equipment.

Powering each MINI Challenge racer is an identical highly-charged twin scroll turbocharged 1.6-litre MINI engine, blessed with the very latest John Cooper Works magic.

Supersonic acceleration will be matched by maniacal mid-corner speed thanks to legendary LSD-enhanced MINI go-kart handling and grip that put leeches to shame.

Stopping a MINI Challenge car faster than a plummeting concrete slab in a crash test chamber will be the task of the huge race-proven grooved, drilled and ventilated John Cooper Works brakes.

The second hardest-working team members at the MINI Challenge events will be the decal crews, who will undoubtedly be called upon after every race to reapply sponsor logos rubbed raw by lap-after-lap of three abreast cornering. The true reasoning behind the extra buffed muscle tone for the new MINI’s shoulder line is at last revealed.

The hardest working team members will obviously be the drivers who will fight tooth, nail and decal to get their British Bulldog snout over the line first.

Drivers will be drawn from the ambition-rich ranks of go-kart and open wheel formulae; youngsters who want their first taste of tin-top racing. Also, experienced competitors seeking an adrenaline overboost will join with MINI enthusiasts who have waited impatiently for several years for MINI Challenge to arrive in Australia (OK you guys, enough with the letters, emails and voodoo dolls).

In true MINI style, the thrill of the chase will be beamed into homes across the country as the spine-tingling racing is broadcast on television.

MINI Challenge turns each event into an extra-long weekend of MINI fun, with unconventional off-track festivities matched to unique MINI paddock club hospitality that pitches MINI fans into the heart of the action.

MINI Challenge has a red-hot heritage in Europe, with Germans and Brits blasting around race tracks in pursuit of podiums and prizes.

In Germany, MINI Challenge is the most popular one make series, also garnering the lion’s share of media attention.

Recently, even the Belgians, Swiss and Kiwis have donned fireproof underwear for serious side-by-side scrimmage, and on occasion, gravel rash.

MINI Challenge is an affordable entry point to a high caliber professionally supported circuit racing programme, so it will be undoubtedly popular among competitors. Strictly controlled sporting regulations mean all cars are mechanically identical and matched to a control car, so driving skills, tactics and true grit (as opposed to gravel rash) are the keys to success, with hugely entertaining racing the result for spectators.

Recently, Australian MINI Motorsport activities have focussed on tarmac rallying, with a sensational three-car team of Chill Red MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works engine kit cars campaigned in 2006 and 2007. The lead Team MINI racer, driven by Australian Champion Paul Stokell finished ninth outright in the 2007 Targa Tasmania Rally in April, putting far more exotic, highly priced machinery to the sword on the way.

Racing MINIs kicked off the brand’s Australian revival in 2002 with the international race track debut of the R50 MINI Cooper at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix Celebrity Challenge race. Such was the success and popularity of the cars, they rushed back the following year.

MINI has a vast motor racing heritage in Australia, stretching back more than 40 years, with the most notable result being the 1966 Gallagher 500 whitewash at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama circuit, where MINI Cooper S cars filled the top nine places. It’s a feat unmatched till today.

“MINI Challenge is the most exciting new international series to reach Australian Motorsport for several years,” said Justin Hocevar, National Manager MINI.

“We have very solid competition credentials both overseas and here in Australia thanks to Team MINI.

“Thanks to the gripping on-track action, MINI Challenge is sure to find a strong and loyal following among race watchers both trackside and on TV.

“The series is the ideal entry point to car racing for suitably successful go-karters keen to advance their careers.

“Our experience with Team MINI in Targa Tasmania shows us that no matter what their age, race fans love MINIs and love to see them compete.

“With MINI Challenge we will be bringing an affordable, competitive and very exciting series to Australia. It will be good for racers, spectators, sponsors and for motorsport in general,” Justin said.

“The countdown has begun.”