Will Orton insisted that this rookie year in the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE had been the favourite season of his career to date after the Hybrid Tune driver wrapped up second in the standings at Brands Hatch.

Orton had gone into the final round as the only person who could stop Dan Zelos from, taking a second title but saw his hopes end in race one when he was unable to score the points he needed despite finishing in third spot.

The teenager would then take second in races two and three as he wrapped up the Rookie Cup title with ease, ending the campaign with an impressive total of 13 podium finishes, including six wins.

Whilst that was four wins fewer than Zelos, Orton’s podium tally would be the most in a season since James Gornall in his 2019 title-winning campaign.

“Fair play to Dan as he’s been so consistent this season,” Orton admitted. “His misfortune at the start of the season gave us a leg up in the championship early on, but then we had our issues at Snetterton that brought him back into it.

“From there, his consistency really paid off and the title couldn’t have gone to a better person. We’ve had some fantastic battles this season and the racing has been clean throughout, which is how you want a title fight to be.”

Despite missing out on the overall crown, Orton added that being forced to push himself in his battle with Zelos – the most experienced driver in JCW history – had helped him to improve as a driver.

“I’d say this has probably been the favourite season of my career so far, because Dan being so quick has given me a strong benchmark to measure myself against and it’s forced me to keep pushing,” he said.

“I’ve been in the gym five or six days a week leaving no stone unturned this year to try and gain an advantage, and when you’re fighting for a title, you push yourself that extra ten per cent to try and get on top.

“I think that’s why you saw some mistakes from me earlier in the year because I was trying too hard, but that is what happens when you find yourself trying to fast track things and hit a goal in year one that you probably weren’t initially aiming for.”