Reigning MINI CHALLENGE champion Charlie Butler-Henderson will return to defend his crown wearing the badge of MINI UK after being named as a brand ambassador.

Butler-Henderson took seven race wins on his way to a maiden CHALLENGE title last season when running with the Oakfield Motorsport team. For this season he will switch to running under the MINI UK VIP Customer Support Team, with his new F56 JCW car wearing a modern update on the original John Cooper Works racing colours.

Butler-Henderson is only the second driver to attract ambassador status from MINI UK, following Dakar Rally driver Harry Hunt.

Butler-Henderson said: “I’m massively excited to be returning to the MINI CHALLENGE this year, and even more so to be representing MINI UK while racing.

“Last year was just overwhelming. Everything went so much better than planned, so the pressure is really on to try and bring this year up to a similar level. It will be very tough because the grid is much bigger and people have more experience with the F56 JCW cars now.

“The move to Dunlop tyres for this year has changed things. During the testing we’ve done so far we’ve found it more challenging to get heat into the rubber, so it will force teams to play about with set ups and drivers to alter their driving style to maybe be a bit more aggressive.

“The MINI UK VIP Customer Support Team is looking really good so far and I’ll have James Turkington as one of my team-mates along with Rob Smith, so we’ll push each other and I’ll give each other some hints at how to improve as the year goes on. It will be an exciting season I’m sure.”