Tommy Watson will become the latest driver to make his racing debut in the Vertu MINI CHALLENGE Trophy next season after inking a deal to join the Cooper grid with multiple champions EXCELR8.

Watson – a sponsor of EXCELR8’s BTCC team through his Mairon Freight Management UK business – will be making his first foray into racing having long been a fan of motorsport himself.

As a racing rookie, Watson will aim to benefit from the extensive expertise within the squad to help him get up to speed on track ahead of the opening rounds of the 2024 season, which will take place at Snetterton in mid-April.

Watson will join forces with the previously announced Harvey Riby as part of EXCELR8’s multi-car programme.

“I’ve been part of the EXCELR8 ‘family’ now for four years as a sponsor of Tom Ingram – and more recently as a Team Partner – so 2024 is going to be a little bit different when I get behind the wheel myself!” he said. “I’ve always loved racing and wanted to see what I could do on the track, so for the opportunity to now come around is just fantastic.

“Being able to do this alongside EXCELR8 has been key, and is what gave me the push I needed to get into a race car myself. I know the challenge that lies ahead and it’s time to get my head down and use the winter period to make sure I’m in the best shape possible to hit the ground running when the season comes around.”

Team owner Justina Williams said she was looking forward to seeing how Watson developed as a driver over the season.

“We’ve been able to develop a fantastic working relationship with Tommy and the team at Mairon since they became Team Partners, and it’s going to be interesting to see that relationship go in a different direction in 2024 when he joins our MINI CHALLENGE line-up,” she said.

“When it became clear that Tommy wanted to see what he could do on track, we were delighted to be able to put a deal together to allow him to join the Cooper grid and can’t wait to see what he can achieve behind the wheel.”