Former Cooper Class champion Ant Whorton-Eales will make a return to the MINI CHALLENGE this season, and has his eyes firmly set on a maiden JCW crown.

Whorton-Eales will join JamSport Racing for its maiden campaign in the JCW division, with 23-year-old Whorton-Eales having switched back to MINI racing after a season in the British Touring Car Championship.

The Lichfield racer won the Cooper Class crown back in 2011 before moving on to race in the Renault Clio Cup, taking that championship title in a JamSport-run car in 2016 before making his BTCC debut at the wheel of an AMD-run Audi S3.

Whorton-Eales said: “I’d pretty much agreed a deal to race in the BTCC again this season when the opportunity to race the MINI with JamSport came along, and Shaun [Hollamby – AmDtuning.com team manager] said I would be stupid not to take it.

JamSport will run four cars in the series this year, with Whorton-Eales joining Scotsman Joe Tanner, Ford Fiesta Junior champion Jack Davidson and Calum King.

Team boss Jamie Going said: “Obviously we are delighted that we’ve been able to do a deal to bring Ant back into the team for 2018 as we launch our new programme in the MINI Challenge.

Ant fits the bill perfectly as even when he was racing in the BTCC with the Audi last year, he was still involved in helping us with data and during testing. His knowledge and expertise in setting up a car will be crucial, and we know already what he is capable of on track.

“I have no doubt that Ant will be right in the mix for the championship and our ultimate goal is to try and wrap up the title at the first attempt.”

Although I really enjoyed my season in touring cars last year, I’m only 23 and there is plenty of time for me to return to the grid in future. That is my long-term goal, but for this year, my focus now is firmly on working with JamSport on this new programme and it’s something I’m really looking forward to.

Obviously I know the team already from the Clio Cup and I feel we have good knowledge and expertise to make a success of the move to the MINI Challenge. I’ll be working with the same engineer I’ve had in recent seasons and although I’ve only had very limited time in a car so far, I can already see that it is quite similar to a touring car – so hopefully we can use my experience from last year to our advantage.

I fully appreciate that the level of competition will be high as there are teams and drivers who have been on the grid for a number of years, but with JamSport, I think we have a fantastic chance to repeat the success we have enjoyed in the past and the only aim is to fight for the title.