Former Renault Clio Cup driver Ollie Pidgley will switch to the MINI CHALLENGE JCW Championship next season after agreeing a deal with Excelr8 Motorsport.

The 20-year-old from Downton in Wiltshire joins the CHALLENGE after two years in Clios, during which he became a podium finisher in the series’ Graduate Cup category in 2016. Budget constraints meant he contested a part-season this year.

Pidgley will now handle one of the 265bhp JCW machines for his first full season of MINI competition.

It’s fantastic to be able to confirm I’ll be racing in the MINI CHALLENGE next year, I can’t wait to race the JCW car – it’s awesome to drive”, said Pidgley.

“I am so excited to be joining such a professional team and one with such a great track record as Excelr8 Motorsport, their success in MINI speaks for itself, and it’s going to be great being part of the British GT package.

The MINI JCW is a real step in the right direction towards a British Touring Car, with the sequential gearbox and aero package, so it’s the ideal step in my career at this point. Testing has gone really well with some great lap times and successful qualifying simulations too, plus we’ve had a mixture of dry and wet conditions so I’ve been able to get some good experience.

I’m really looking forward to working with Excelr8, Justina [Williams – team principal] has made me feel right at home and she has been a huge part of being able to get our deal finalised this side of Christmas – I’m really grateful to her.

“I also want to say a huge thank you to MINI who kindly loaned me a Cooper S Works 210 road car recently while I was doing some filming for Honest John. I’m really excited to have joined the MINI ‘family’ and the aim is to obviously have a strong first season in the championship. I know with the great support I’ll get from Excelr8 we’ll be competitive from the outset.”