Norfolk-based race team Mannpower Motorsport has announced plans to expand its involvement in the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE to include an entry into the headline JCW category next season.

The team has been part of the MINI CHALLENGE family since 2019, securing multiple victories in the now-defunct Cooper Am category before joining the combined Cooper grid the following season.

Owned and run by experienced race engineer James Manning, the team has thus far run a single Cooper driven by his father Paul, but has long-eyed a move to field an expanded, multi-car programme.

Investment in a new race transporter for the 2023 campaign was seen as the next step in the growth of the team, which will now embark on its biggest challenge to date next season when it competes in JCWs for the first time.

The MINI CHALLENGE’s headline category competes exclusively on the support package for the British Touring Car Championship, with this season’s calendar featuring a total of 20 races spread across seven events at circuits including Brands Hatch, Donington Park and Silverstone.

Whereas the Cooper class cars run by the team to this point are closer to the road-going R50 model on which they are based, the JCW machine is a purpose-built race car that is the most powerful to have ever competed in the MINI CHALLENGE – with a two-litre turbo-powered engine developing more than 240bhp.

“We’re excited to announce that we’ll be competing in the MINI CHALLENGE’s JCW class for the first time in 2024,” James Manning said.

“It’s always been our plan to enter the JCW category at some stage, and as the team continues to grow, we feel this is the right time to expand further and move to the next level.

“Having competed successfully in the Cooper class for the last five seasons, we are hugely excited to be in a position to announce this news – particularly at such an early stage with half of the current season still to run.

“We can’t wait to now add some JCWs to our line-up, and are looking forward to the new challenge that lies ahead in 2024 and beyond.”

Further news on the make-up of Mannpower’s 2024 race programme will follow in due course, with the current focus of the team being on the remaining four events of the 2023 campaign.