Ben Taylor will make a long-awaited move into the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE this season after joining forces with multiple champions EXCELR8 for his debut in the Cooper class.

The Norfolk-based racer has targeted a place on the Cooper grid for a number of years, only to see his dreams of taking to the track be hampered by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent seasons have seen Taylor take in races as part of the Snetterton Saloons series, whilst last year he joined Motorsport Vision’s popular Trackday Trophy series at the wheel of a MINI Cooper S – securing a number of top four finishes in Class C and grabbing an impressive overall top ten in a field of more than 40 cars at Donington Park.

Eager to see how he matches up in a single-make series rather than continuing in a multi-class championship, Taylor becomes the latest driver to sign up with EXCELR8 for the new Cooper season, which kicks off at Brands Hatch this weekend in support of the British Truck Racing Championship.

“Racing in the MINI CHALLENGE is something that I’ve wanted to do for a few years and I spoke with the team before the pandemic struck, but we didn’t manage to get something in place,” he said. “Having now done some races in the Trackday Trophy, I really wanted to make the move into a single-make series where the racing was more competitive, and I’m delighted to now have a deal sorted with the team.

“EXCELR8 has a fantastic record of success, and I know they are the best team to help me learn – which has to be the main target for 2023 and year one of what I feel will probably be a two-year programme in the Coopers.

“I’m looking to make the most of the experience within the team to improve and get quicker, and I want to try and make forward progress as the season goes on. I don’t have big expectations in terms of results and want to keep my feet on the ground but at the same time, it looks like there are quite a few new drivers on the grid this year which will level the playing field a bit.

“The chance to race on the BTCC package is also something I can’t wait for on a personal level, and it’s also something that will provide my sponsors – including Cogent Hire and We Are Doodlebug – with a real boost in exposure.”

EXCELR8 owner Justina Williams said the team was focused on helping Taylor to try and achieve his aims during the year ahead.

“We first spoke to Ben a while ago to discuss the possibility of him racing with us, so it’s great that we’ve now been able to join forces for the year ahead,” she said.

“In recent seasons, he has shown impressive pace when racing a MINI in multi-marque championships and it will be interesting to see how he now gets on whilst racing on a packed grid of Coopers.

“We look forward to helping him achieve his goals during the 2023 campaign and are confident that he will be able to realise his potential on track.”