Baz Ward will return to the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE for a full season in 2023 after inking a deal with EXCELR8.

The 38-year-old joins the multiple title winners for what will be his first full season of competition, having previously contested selected races in a variety of different championships.

Outings in the EnduroKA series included being part of the winning team in the 2020 IndyKa 500 race at Brands Hatch, whilst he also picked up a brace of podium finishes when called up to take part in a one-off drive in the Ginetta G40 Cup during the same season.

Ward made his MINI CHALLENGE debut last season with the LUX Motorsport squad, taking part in four of the seven meetings and securing a best finish of 15th.

Keen to try and fight higher up the order during the year ahead, Ward will hope to make the most of the experience within the EXCELR8 squad, with his goal being to challenge for front-running results as the campaign goes on.

“After getting a taste of the BTCC paddock last year and competing in a part season in the MINI CHALLENGE, I’m really excited to be returning for a full season,” he said. “Joining EXCELR8 was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up as the team has enjoyed a huge amount of success in the series, and is the perfect fit for me and my sponsors.

“As well as chasing success on the track, the team puts a lot of focus onto the business side of our sport, and that is something that is super important when it comes to looking after the best interests of my sponsors – such as Spicymango Technology who stay onboard this season as a title sponsor.

“The JCW is quite literally a ‘MINI’ touring car and the racing is fast and fun, so I’m really looking forward to a full season as part of the EXCELR8 line-up. I showed at times last season that I’m capable of running with the fast guys, so I hope I can take the experience I’ve gained so far and combine it with the knowledge of the team to consistently fight near the front.”

Team owner Justina Williams said she was confident that Ward would be able to make an impression during the year ahead.

“Baz is a quick driver who suffered more than his fair share of bad luck last season,” she said. “Despite that, he was able to show glimpses of his pace and we’re now looking forward to working with him to really realise his potential in the JCWs.

“There is no reason why Baz can’t challenge towards the front of what looks set to be a highly competitive field, and I’m sure he will prove to be an important member of the team as we look to reclaim the title.”