Graves Motorsport has confirmed that it will field an eight driver line-up in the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE Trophy this season as it bids to try and retain the title it won last season with Nelson King.

King dominated the Cooper class last season and will now make the step up into JCWs for 2023, with the team seeking to try and replicate his front-running form in a bid to make it two titles as in as many seasons.

Having finished fourth in the standings last season, Nicky Taylor returns to lead the line-up bidding to challenge for a maiden championship crown, with Alex Solley, Ben Jenkins and Alex Keens all sticking with the team for the new campaign.

Like Taylor, Solley scored multiple podium finishes last season whilst Jenkins showed his potential with a fastest lap at Thruxton – the quickest circuit on the calendar. Keens meanwhile embarks on a first full season after taking a best finish of ninth in a three round campaign in 2022.

Reigning Rookie Cup winner Jack Byrne is one of two existing MINI CHALLENGE drivers to join the line-up alongside, with the Irish driver chasing a breakthrough win after scoring multiple podium finishes last year.

Frankie Taylor will be keen to try and break into the top three himself having moved over from LDR, with rookie pair James Black and Daniel Armstrong rounding out the line-up.

Black worked as a mechanic on Solley’s car last season having previously raced in the Britcar Trophy, whilst Armstrong steps into car racing for the first time after an impressive career in karting.

“I am delighted that four of our drivers are returning with the aim of keeping hold of the MINI CHALLENGE Trophy title that we won last year,” team manager David Graves said.

“A real highlight of that was the first event where we took our first ever 1-2-3 finish, and both Nicky Taylor and Alex Solley were massive parts of that and our success last year.  Ben Jenkins showed the pace we know he is capable of, especially at Thruxton where he was challenging well inside the top ten and Alex Keens showed a lot of promise in the last few rounds last year

“I strongly believe both he and James Black will be strong contenders for the rookie cup this year, hopefully taking the title that Jack Byrne impressively won last year whilst challenging the very front runners at the end of the season.  Daniel Armstrong is starting his car racing journey and made huge progress in our recent two-day test at Pembrey.”