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Reigning Cooper champion Tom Ovenden will make the move into the headline JCW class of the Vertu MINI CHALLENGE for the first time this season after extending his partnership with EXCELR8 into a fourth year!

On the back of a successful career in rallycross, where he secured multiple Junior titles, Tom made the move into circuit racing for the first time in 2021 when he signed up as part of EXCELR8’s multi-car programme in the MINI CHALLENGE Trophy.

A fine run of form in the latter stages of the season saw him end his rookie year with three successive podium finishes, and he then made it onto the top step for the first time in 2022 – scoring wins at Thruxton and Snetterton en-route to a top three championship finish.

Kicking off his 2023 campaign with a win at Brands Hatch, Ovenden would be at the sharp end in the title race throughout the year, wrapping up the championship crown back at his home circuit following a season that saw him finish on the podium in eleven of the 20 races.

Fresh from securing a maiden circuit racing title to add to his resume, Ovenden will now follow in the footsteps of Dominic Wheatley and Nelson King by moving up as Cooper champion into the JCW category, with the 19-year-old set to be one of the youngest drivers on the 2024 grid. 

Ovenden will also take up a role as a Academy Driver for EXCELR8’s British Touring Car Championship team, providing the opportunity to work alongside the title-winning squad to gain valuable knowledge and experience to help him progress up the motorsport ladder.

Ovenden will make his JCW debut when the 2024 campaign kicks off at Donington Park next weekend with the opening three races of the season.

Tom Ovenden said:

“Winning the Cooper class last season was fantastic for me, and a real reward for all the hard work and effort that went in across three years in the category. Racing in such a competitive series allowed me to learn a huge amount, and I know I’m a much better driver now than I was when I made the switch from rallycross.

“The time is right to move on to the next level in my career, and stepping up into the JCW class is the logical move to make. It still doesn’t quite feel real, because I never imagined I would win the Cooper class when I moved over from rallycross, and to now be preparing to race a JCW is unbelievable.

“I know that the step up from the Cooper is a big one, but I feel confident of hitting the ground running when the season gets underway and fully intend to take this opportunity with both hands. To be one of EXCELR8’s Academy Drivers for the new season is also a huge honour, and I have to thank the team for putting their trust in me.

“Of course, I want to win races as that’s why I go racing, but as long as I can come away from every race this year knowing that I’ve done the best job possible, then I’ll be happy.”

Justina Williams, EXCELR8 Team Owner, said:

“We have really enjoyed seeing Tom grow both as a driver and also as an impressive young man over the past three years, and to see him secure the Cooper title last year was a reward for all of the hard work he has put in alongside the team.

“To have him now preparing to move up into the JCW class in one of our cars is brilliant, and I have no doubt that he will be able to transfer all of the skills he had gained to this point into the new class and make an impression on track.

“He is also richly deserving of a place on our Development Driver programme and will hopefully benefit from the experience as his career continues to gather pace.”

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