Cooper Class dominator and Sunoco Challenge winner Max Bladon will graduate to the MINI CHALLENGE’s JCW Championship this season.

Bladon has agreed to race a Bizkarts-backed JCW with the Excelr8 Motorsport team for what will be his third campaign in car racing.

The 20-year-old was a standout talent in the CHALLENGE last season, dominating the Cooper Class title-chase, claiming 14 wins from 17 outings. His performances also landed him the coveted prize of a funded sportscar driver at Daytona. He took part in the IMSA Sportscar Challenge event that supported the Daytona 24 Hours in January at the wheel of a GT4-spec Aston Martin Vantage.

I was working on a deal to move into GT racing, but when this deal came about with Bizkarts it was too good to turn down,” said Bladon.

“It’s the car that Chris Smith raced last season, so I know it’s a good piece of kit. I’ve tested the JCW a few times and it’s a very different driving experience to the Cooper. You have a lot more power and the sequential gearbox and bigger brakes.

In truth I think the JCW will better suit my driving style. With the Coopers you have to rein yourself in a bit and concentrate on being smooth and carrying speed as there’s not much power to rely on. With the JCW you can be more aggressive as you have loads of power and grip. I think it will bring more out of me as a driver.

This year is a big one for the JCWs, running alongside the British GT Championship, so doing well will put me on the radar for some of the GT operations. I see it as a perfect step.

Staying with Excelr8 was also a big thing for me. I had such a successful season last year with the team and it’s like a family. Having that familiarity will really help when stepping up into the JCWs.

I’d be disappointed if I didn’t win races this year – that’s the aim. I’m going to take each race as it comes, but I need to be in the top five in each race ideally, and if you can do that then at the end of the year you’ll be in the mix.”

You can find out more about Max here.