Jack Byrne Third Overall in Vertu Motors MINI Challenge UK Trophy Championship
Twenty year old Jack Byrne from Ballinaboola, Co. Wexford has finished off his season in the Vertu Motors MINI Challenge UK Trophy Championship by securing third overall in the highly competitive one make series, along with claiming the Graduate Cup Title. The series which ran over seven weekends at six different UK tracks is a pathway to the British Touring Car Championship and runs as support for selected rounds of the BTCC and broadcast live on ITV.
Byrne secured the Rookie cup in 2022 and started this years campaign in fine form, taking three podiums from three races at the Brands Hatch opener in April, including his first win of the campaign. As the championship moved to Snetterton in Norwich a month later, Byrne was able to continue this form into Qualifying by taking P2, along with another P2 podium in Race 3. As the series joined the British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton in June, Byrnes luck would change and having being fastest in combined practice on the Friday, he would have engine issues in Qualifying to leave him in P12 – with a race against the clock to get a new engine fitted in the limited time before Race 1, where he would then suffer a non-finish due to contact with another driver and having to start from pit lane for Race 2. He recovered in that race to P11 and produced a spirited drive in Race 3 to go from P11 to win the race, keeping him in the title fight.
A strong weekend in Croft in July, with two more podiums from two, including his third win of the season would see him sitting second in the championship just over half way through the season. However, another DNF in Donnington a few weeks later due to a burst radiator would see his title fight suffering a huge blow dropping him back to fourth in the overall standings. In September, Byrne secured the Graduate Cup in Silverstone with an unattainable lead with three races to spare, which is awarded to second year drivers in the series. The overall title was still within reach though, and the title fight would go to the final round in Brands in November, where Byrne would take a win in Race 2 - this wouldn’t be enough to challenge for the overall title but jumped him into third in the overall championship, with the second highest podium finishes of the season.
“This is the most competitive series I’ve raced in to date so to finish in the top three is a fantastic achievement for me, my team and my sponsors. We suffered more than a little bad luck through the season leaving us thinking what could have been, but that’s the nature of racing and I’m proud of our overall performance throughout the year. Graves Motorsport have been amazing to work with and along with the support from my family and loyal sponsors we have had a memorable year”