A season long fight to secure top honours in the QUAIFE MINI CHALLENGE draws to a close this weekend, with five drivers still harbouring hopes of winning the title as the series makes a second visit of the year to Brands Hatch.

A field of 26 cars is set to do battle around the famous Grand Prix layout as the overall champion is decided with Rookie Cup, Graduate Cup and Directors Cup crowns having all be secured with at least one round to spare.

Sam Weller – the man who has already wrapped up the Graduate Cup – is the man to beat in the overall standings, having closed to within touching distance of the title last time out at Silverstone.

Victory in the final race there, after two further podium finishes, allowed Weller to extend his lead in the standings to 66 points – almost doubling the advantage he had held going into the weekend.

Weller has been the man to beat for most of the season and has a 100 per cent scoring record, which means he also two drop scores – totalling 71 points – in his back pocket should he encounter any problems during the final three races.

That fact strengthens Weller’s position at the front ahead, with his closest rival now being Ronan Pearson.

The Scot moved up to second with a double podium performance at Silverstone – where he also grabbed all three fastest laps and a new lap record – and insists the pressure is off going into the final round given the situation in the points.

Pearson has a single drop of 24 still to take, but is realistic enough to know that he will need luck on his side if he is beat Weller to the title.

The same is true for EXCELR8 team-mate Jason Lockwood, who sits four points behind Pearson in third spot.

Lockwood is the other driver to have finished every race so far this season and has scored the second highest number of points before dropped scores as a result and will be keen to end his campaign on a high having been – like Weller – a model of consistency over the course of the year.

Graves Motorsport’s Rookie Cup winner Alex Denning likes in fourth spot after taking his win tally to five with a double win at Silverstone; the second meeting in a row where he had achieved such a feat.

Denning has been the man to beat in recent events but two DNFs during the season mean he no dropped score behind him and will mean the Irish racer needs a big swing in the points if he is to grab the title at the first attempt.

JWB’s local racer Jack Mitchell rounds out the drivers who retain a mathematical chance of the title but will also require a near perfect weekend to come away from the weekend with a championship title to his name.

One thing the leader pack will also want to now bear in mind is that a top four finish will now count towards qualification for membership of the BRDC – a key factor for many drivers as they work their way up the racing ladder.

Outside the contenders, there are plenty of drivers bidding to end the year on a high including EXCELR8’s outgoing champion Dan Zelos and LUX Motorsport’s 2021 title contender Jack Davidson – both of whom are bidding to avoid a winless campaign.

Zelos saw his title defence hit by a challenging run of results in the middle of the season and will been keen to try and sign off from his time as champion with three strong results having only managed a single podium since the visit to the Brands Indy layout earlier in the year.

Davidson has also struggled to match his front-running form from last year – partly as a result of the impact of the new tyres introduced into the series this season – and will be looking to return to the podium for the first time since the opening round.

Max Coates is bidding to add to his victory on the Indy layout to end a tough run of form and will run a change of number this weekend having taken the decision to swap his regular #71 to #69 in honour of friend Chrissy Rouse – who passed away following an accident in a British Superbike Championship race at Donington Park last week.

Coates’ Graves team-mate Lewis Brown – the man to beat around the GP circuit twelve months ago – will also be eager to end the year with a trip to the top step after a challenging campaign that has failed to hit the heights of 2021 whilst others to watch include Directors Cup champion Joe Tanner and his fellow Hybrid Tune racer Sam Smith, who grabbed a Rookie Cup win on his debut at Silverstone two weeks ago.

As has become the norm in recent years, the season finale will benefit from additional broadcast coverage from ITV with all three races being shown live. Races one and two will be shown on on Saturday afternoon, with race three being part of Sunday’s ITV4 HD coverage.