From its earliest days, the original Mini was a firm favourite of amateur racers. And now, thanks to Suffolk-based team Excelr8 Motorsport, you can get behind the wheel of a competition version of the latest MINI Cooper S.

The MINI Challenge has been created for a new flagship class in the successful British MINI Challenge series, and while it starts life as a road car, 120 hours of work turn it into a real racer. The interior is stripped out and a safety cage is welded in, while under the bonnet the standard engine gets an upgraded turbo and ECU, for an additional 86bhp, and is matched to a sequential racing gearbox.

The standard suspension parts remain, but it gets stiffer bushes, adjustable racing dampers and more aggressive camber, caster and ride-height settings. With no ABS or servo assistance, the upgraded brakes are pure motorsport.

All of which ensures the MINI Challenge feels stiff, pointy and every bit the real racer. The sequential gearbox means you can bang each upshift home without lifting the throttle, and there’s plenty of feel through the brake pedal, too. There’s also enough adjustment available to fine-tune the chassis set-up.

The MINI Challenge starts next spring, and takes place over seven meetings with three races per weekend.

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