MINI Challenge graduate Rob Smith joins Excelr8

Rob Smith will move into the BTCC for the 2019 season being officially confirmed as the first signing for newcomers Excelr8 Motorsport.

Smith has raced for the team for the last four seasons in the MINI Challenge as part of the official MINI UK VIP Customer Team, taking a number of race wins and finishing fourth in the championship standings this season.

The 26-year-old will now join Excelr8 in making the switch into touring cars and is the first driver named in one of the two MG6 GTs the team has acquired for its debut campaign.

“It’s an absolute dream come true to be stepping-up to the British Touring Car Championship for 2019, and especially to be doing it with Excelr8 Motorsport,” he said. “As soon as I joined the team in 2014, it was clear that we both saw our future in the BTCC, so it’s fantastic to finally make it a reality.

“We’ve been working hard behind the scenes all year, and it’s fantastic to be in a position to confirm we’ll be on the grid at such an early stage. We’re in the process of finalising a couple of deals, and still have a number of sponsorship packages available, so we should have an exciting range of partners to reveal at the Season Launch.

“I have no doubt it will be a steep learning curve for both myself and the team, but continuity is key so hopefully by extending our relationship we will be able to add to the success we’ve already achieved. The MG6 is a proven package and one of the most successful cars of the NGTC era, so we have an excellent platform to build from and I know the team has some exciting plans for the future.”

Excelr8 team manager Oliver Shepherd was pleased to confirm Smith in the first season, with the second driver to be announced in due course.

“Rob has been with us for a number of years now so we’re well aware of his ability and the effort he puts in to be successful, so we were very keen for him to make the step up with us,” he said. “Working with a driver we know means we have one less variable to think about while we get to grips with the demands of the BTCC.

“He was involved in the development of the MINI CHALLENGE JCW and our endurance car, so that experience should help us get an understanding of the MG6 over the winter. Rob knows exactly what he needs from the car and if we can deliver that then the results are sure to follow. He’s also very strong commercially, so we can be sure that our partners are going to be well represented both on and off-track.”