Cooper Class star Mark Wakefield is the latest star to sign up to the MINI CHALLENGE’s burgeoning F56 JCW Class this year.

Wakefield shone with three race wins during his second season in the Cooper Class last term, which yielded a third place finish in the championship.

For this year he will graduate into the CHALLENGE’s premier category, running under his own Mark Wakefield Motorsport banner.

Wakefield will have assistance running his new F56 from HSG Sport, and he will also benefit from a data-share deal with Team Dynamics’ racer Henry Neal.

“This is a big year for us but it’s hugely exciting to be going into the F56 JCW class,” said Wakefield. “The new car is a world apart from the Cooper.

You have so much more power, and the braking differences are totally different as you can really stamp on the brakes in the JCW, so it can take you by surprise. I’m also training to build up strength in my hands and wrists because you’re going so much faster that the steering is heavier and so is the sequential gearbox.

“The data share deal with Dynamics and Henry is great because we’re both solo drivers without team-mates, so it’s good to have that comparison and that benchmark as it helps you improve. I’m gelling very well with the HSG guys too. They’ve got experience with British Touring Cars and GTs, so the car is well looked after.”

Wakefield has so far only completed one test day, at Oulton Park, but is due to have more running before the first rounds at Donington Park next weekend.

“We lost a few test days with some teething issues on the car which were eventually traced to the clutch,” he adds. “That’s sorted now so we’re trying to maximise track time. We’re about three months behind everybody else in terms of testing so it will be a hard first round, but we’ll get there.

“I’ve done two years in the Coopers so I know how everybody drives, and I know the strengths and weaknesses of a lot of the drivers. I’m here to win, just finishing in the top 10 isn’t a target. Finishing regularly in the top five would be great, but winning is why we’re here so we’ll be pushing hard to get the top step.”