John Castle will make his racing debut next year with EXCELR8 after joining forces with the team for a programme in the 2024 Vertu MINI CHALLENGE Trophy.

Castle is the third driver confirmed with the team for the season so far alongside fellow rookie Tommy Watson and series returnee Harvey Riby.

A long-time fan of motorsport, Castle was first introduced to EXCELR8 when he joined the team for a VIP Hospitality day at the circuit, where he struck up a conversation with Watson – the CEO of team partner Mairon Freight UK.

The pair went on to develop a working relationship which ultimately resulted in the two newcomers signing up to compete themselves during the year ahead.

“I’ve followed the progress of EXCELR8 and Tom Ingram for a number of years and joined the team for a VIP hospitality day on a race weekend,” Castle said. “Through that, I got talking to Tommy and we developed a working relationship and have gone on to become good mates. We both love racing and when he said he fancied getting out on track, I thought why not join him!

“This is two mates going out to have some fun and for me, it’s more about the social side of things and the opportunity to do some networking and develop relationships, as I’ve never raced before. In that respect, there is no-one better to do that with than EXCELR8 as I’ve already seen first-hand how being involved with the team can open doors.

“Saying that, I don’t just want to make up the numbers and will be working with Ronan Pearson to benefit from his experience and work my way up the grid. I’m looking at this as a three-year programme with a year in the Coopers before hopefully moving into JCW Sport in year two, and then moving up to race in JCW in year three.”

Team owner Justina Williams said she was interested to see how Castle developed as a driver in his rookie season.

“It’s fantastic to welcome John into our Cooper line-up for 2024, particularly because of the way the deal has all come together from a relationship forged between him and Tommy through their separate involvement in our racing programme,” she said.

“We look forward to seeing how John progresses as the season goes on, and it promises to be an interesting battle between him and Tommy for bragging rights in their debut seasons!”