The new Vertu MINI CHALLENGE Trophy season bursts into life this weekend at Snetterton, with a packed grid set to hit the track for the opening three races of the new campaign at the longest circuit on the calendar.

A mixture of youth and experience can be seen across the entry for the first meeting of the year with more names to be added as the season pans out, but a total of 25 drivers are set to line up for round one.

But who are the runners and riders in the Cooper class of 2024?

EXCELR8 Motorsport:

Having taken the title with Tom Ovenden year, local outfit EXCELR8 returns with no fewer than six cars for the opening round, and more to come later in the season with drivers having signed up to part programmes.

Gabe Fairbrother, who showed encouraging progress across his rookie season, returns for a second year bidding to add to the podium finish he scored at Silverstone, whilst Harvey Riby, Katia Loggie and Ben Taylor are also back for another crack at the series.

For all three, progress is the name of the game as they look to take the lessons learned from last season and fight higher up the pecking order.

Newcomers Tommy Watson and John Castle – both of whom are eligible for the Directors Cup – round out the line-up and are focused mainly on enjoying the experience in what will be their first seasons of competition.

Graves Motorsport:

Graves Motorsport has five cars on the entry for the opening weekend, including the driver who goes into 2024 as arguably the championship favourite in the shape of Alex Solley.

A multiple winner last season, Solley is the highest-placed returning driver from 2023 and has plenty of experience of what is needed to run at the sharp end of the field – making him the man to beat on track going into round one.

Solley is once again joined by fellow race winner Alex Keens, who ended his season on a high with a win at Brands Hatch back in the autumn, as well as James Black and Frankie Taylor. Both secured class podiums last year and will be keen to now convert them into overall top-three finishes, with the top step being the ultimate aim.

Leo Purches rounds out the line-up as he graduates from karts, and will be the youngest driver on the grid this season.

Chandler Motorsport:

On the back of a successful debut season, Chandler Motorsport is back for a second year in the series with an expanded programme that now features five full-season cars.

Rookie champion Rhys Hurd leads the line-up as he seeks to launch a bid for the overall crown, and will be joined once again by Reece Lycett, who will be keen to add consistency to the pace he showed in his own rookie campaign.

Team boss Steven Chandler joins the pair on track for the season after a toe-in-the-water outing at the end of 2023, whilst rookies Cameron Wood and Ronnie Smith both make their series debuts this weekend to round out the line-up.

Westbourne Motorsport:

Westbourne were race winners at Snetterton last season with Max Hall, and whilst he has moved on to the JCW category, both Harry Hickton and Sam Gornall are back for the new season hoping to replicate his results.

The pair impressed at stages last season, with Hickton a podium finisher on multiple occasions and Gornall showing what he could do when he switched to Westbourne colours late in the campaign.

Luca Marinoni Osborne, who was a top-three finisher last year with EXCELR8, joins the pair in a three-car line-up with his goal being to challenge for race wins.

PerformanceTek Racing:

After a year away from the series, former champions PerformanceTek return to the series fielding a two-car line-up.

Jamie Keates joins the team from Mannpower Motorsport as he embarks on his second season, with fellow graduate racer Callum Eason alongside after NAPA Racing UK’s decision to focus on the JCW and JCW Sport categories.

Team Avago:

Team Avago joins the grid on a full-time basis this season after appearing at the 2023 season finale at Brands Hatch.

Joshua Wilby and Louis Fleet team up as they did at Brands Hatch, with a desire to show their true potential on track following a difficult debut.

Mannpower Motorsport:

Another team local to Snetterton, Mannpower Motorsport had planned to expand its line-up for 2024 but a change of circumstances means that regular driver Paul Manning – father of team owner James – is the lone representative.

Going into round one, Manning is set to be the favourite for honours amongst the Directors Cup field and also hopes to make an impression in the overall standings.

Ashley Gregory Racing:

Running from the Mannpower awning, Ashley Gregory rounds out the entry chasing silverware with her family-run team.

Gregory broke onto the podium at Croft last season but suffered more than her fair share of misfortune, something she will be keen to avoid this time around in her quest for silverware.