Former Clio Cup and MINI Challenge racer Sam Osbourne will graduate to the British Touring Car Championship in 2019, racing an MG6 for new outfit Exceler8 Motorsport alongside Rob Smith.
The Rotherham racer has spent the past two seasons with WDE Motorsport competing in the BTCC-supporting Renault UK Clio Cup, ending the 2018 season 12th overall in the drivers’ standings. He previously finished 12th overall in his début season in 2017.
Prior to that, Osbourne raced in the MINI Challenge in 2016 with Exceler8 Motorsport, finishing 11th overall in 2016.
The 26-year-old had previously finished fourth overall in the 2011 and 2012 MINI Challenge, and before that was a two-time winner in the Cooper Class in his first year of car racing in 2010.
Prior to returning to the MINI Challenge in 2016 Osbourne also contested races in the Radical sportscar series.
“This deal to join the BTCC with EXCELR8 is absolutely mega, and something that I’ve dreamt of for a few years now,” said Osborne. “During my racing career I’ve always looked for chances to move up the ladder, and the BTCC is the absolute pinnacle of saloon car racing in the UK. It will be a privilege to be a part of it.
“I feel my time in both the Clios and MINIs has prepared me well for the BTCC. My first test in the MG6 is coming up soon, and I’ve heard a lot of things about the way British Touring Car drive compared to the feeder classes.
“I think my time racing the JCW MINI will be very relevant, as many say it’s close to a touring car experience. There’s obviously a lot more adjustability in the touring car, so we’ll be learning about setup a lot this year.
“I think it will be a learning year all round for us. I know EXCELR8 well from my time in the MINI CHALLENGE, and I’ve raced against Rob Smith for a few years, too.
“However, the MG6 GTs will be a new challenge to both the team and us drivers. But we all work well together, so I expect us to be able to put together a solid debut season.
“Personally, I want to get myself into the thick of the grid as soon as I can, and then look to start fighting for places in the top ten and see where we can go from there.”
Exceler8 Team Manager Oliver Shepherd is excited to be working with Osbourne during the team’s first season in the BTCC.
“We’re delighted to confirm that Sam will join us for our first season in the BTCC, and as a team we’re now raring to get going with both our drivers confirmed.
“Sam is a known quantity to us, and he showed great potential during his first spell with us in the MINI CHALLENGE.
“Between Sam and Rob we have two drivers we know well already, and we know they will gel with the team incredibly quickly, and I think that’s a vitally important aspect when starting up in the BTCC from scratch.
“With our pre-season testing programme due to get underway soon, we’re all very excited for the season ahead.”