Tom Ovenden admitted his delight after securing the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE Trophy crown on the final weekend of the 2023 season at Brands Hatch.

The EXCELR8 driver had gone into the weekend sitting top of the championship standings, but as one of six drivers who retained a mathematical chance of taking the title.

A challenging wet opening race saw Ovenden finish behind title rivals Alex Solley and Nicky Taylor in seventh place, but went into the second race of the weekend knowing that the championship could be secured if results went his way.

Although he would once again finish behind Taylor in the results, a tough encounter for Solley – who finished back in 22nd after a spin – meant that fifth place was enough to given Ovenden the title.

Sixth in the season finale would round out the campaign for the former rallycross champion, who ended the year 34 points clear of Taylor at the top.

“It’s absolutely unreal,” the new champion said. “I knew the second race was going well championship-wise, but I didn’t know where Alex was running and had no idea it was going THAT well!

“I came in at the end and was already thinking about how to prepare for race three, and then I got called in to stop at the podium and had no idea why. To be told the reason was amazing, but even then as the team started to celebrate, I didn’t really believe what was going on.

“I think it was a good thing that I didn’t know I was about to win the title as I didn’t get over-excited. I was just focused on driving smartly and picking up the points I knew we needed, which is why I didn’t try and attack Nicky for position and risk an incident.

“I have to give credit to the entire EXCELR8 team for this success, as every single one of them has done a fantastic job this season. I’ve had a mega car and I absolutely love my little Cooper – it’s done me proud this season.”