A club-level series for MINI racers will hit the track for the first time in 2023 with the launch of new CLUBSPORT classes within the hugely-successful MINI CHALLENGE.

The new Clubsport format is the brainchild of former MINI CHALLENGE racers Tom Halliwell and Robin Austin, and has the full support of Antony Williams – the Quaife MINI CHALLENGE Promoter.

It will see the CLUBSPORT classes operate as an affiliate to the hugely successful British Touring Car Championship-supporting JCW and Cooper classes run by Williams and his team, and will provide drivers with the opportunity to take their first steps onto the MINI CHALLENGE ladder.

The three classes within MINI CHALLENGE CLUBSPORT will be Cooper S, Open and Cooper Am, with cars running together on track to create one bumper field.

The Cooper S class will be open to the R53 and R56 models of the MINI Cooper S at a tightly regulated level of tune, whilst the Cooper Am Class will be open to the R50 variant as used in the MINI CHALLENGE Trophy, but with a more flexible set of technical rules. The Open Class is available to any MINI, with a maximum power-to-weight of 220bhp.

Full regulations for the different classes are available on request.

A calendar featuring 15 races spread across six meetings has been put in place for the inaugural season, which will kick off at Cadwell Park in mid-April before heading to Mallory Park in May.

A high-profile support role to the British Truck Racing Championship follows at Thruxton in July, before the MINI CHALLENGE CLUBSPORT series headlines the MINI Festival at Brands Hatch in early August.

After joining forces with the main MINI CHALLENGE Trophy Cooper Class at Silverstone for the penultimate meeting of the year, the campaign will then draw to a close at Donington Park alongside Britcar in October.

In an exciting move for the first-year of the CLUBSPORT classes, the events at Thruxton, Silverstone and Donington Park will all benefit from live streaming through the British Automobile Racing Club’s popular YouTube channel.

Whilst organisers have already received more than 40 expressions of interest in the MINI CHALLENGE CLUBSPORT classes, registrations will officially open later this week to allow drivers and teams to secure their place on the grid.

Robin Austin, MINI CHALLENGE Clubsport joint championship co-ordinator, said:
“Both Tom and myself were aware that there were a number of drivers out there who either own MINIs that aren’t eligible for the main MINI CHALLENGE, or who don’t have the budget required to compete in the Cooper or JCW classes.

“Rather than those people competing in a range of different multi-marque championships, we decided to investigate the possibility of creating a new championship where they could all race together. Having spoken to Antony for advice and guidance, we’re delighted to be in a position where we can now go public with our plans, and announce the launch of the MINI CHALLENGE CLUBSPORT classes as an affiliate to the existing JCW and Cooper championships.

“We’ve been able to put together a calendar that provides the chance to compete at a number of high-profile events, and have put regulations in place that we know will provide exciting and competitive racing at an affordable level for drivers.”

Tom Halliwell, MINI CHALLENGE Clubsport joint championship co-ordinator, said:
“As long-time MINI racers ourselves, we’re looking forward to working alongside the MINI CHALLENGE to bring new people into the ‘family’, and in much the same way as Antony and his team run two highly professional and successful championships, our goal is to provide the best possible club-level offering for MINI racers.”

Antony Williams, MINI CHALLENGE Promoter, said:
“We are keen to support any MINI racers out there who want to compete on track, and there is clearly demand for the re-introduction of the Cooper S, Cooper Open and Cooper Am classes that were part of the MINI CHALLENGE prior to the pandemic.

“We’re delighted to now be working with Tom and Robin to enable them to run the three classes as a club-level option through the MINI CHALLENGE CLUBSPORT classes, and look forward to seeing how it develops during the year ahead.”

15/16 April – Cadwell Park – 3 x 12min
20/21 May – Mallory Park – 2 x 15min
8/9 July – Thruxton – 2 x 15min
5/6 August – Brands Hatch – 3 x 15min
16/17 September – Silverstone National – 3 x 12min
14/15 October – Donington Park GP – 2 x 15min