(Photo: Sam Martin)
Richard Jepp, at the wheel of the #65 Team Northbrook Racing Peugeot 107, took victory in Race One of the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge at the Opening Weekend Presented by Acorn Printing Services. Jepp finished in fourth place overall, just under 15.5 seconds ahead of Ben Creanor in the #38 West Suffolk College Toyota Aygo.
Completing the class podiums in the five-car field for the Student Motorsport Challenge Opening Weekend Presented by Acorn Printing Services was Duncan Horlor in the #11 Barracksport Citroen C1.
Pole-sitter Richard Jepp in the #65 car led the Student Motorsport Challenge field away from the grid, starting from third overall and on the second row of the 25-car field.
The field got away cleanly with the exception of one spinner in Turn One. At the end of the opening lap, Jepp in the #65 car held the class lead but had fallen back one place on the overall field. On the early laps, Ben Creanor in the #38 West Suffolk College entry was on a charge and had moved up from tenth overall and third in class to sixth overall and had passed Barracksport’s Duncan Horlor for second in the SMo Challenge class.
As the 15-minute contest entered its final third, Jepp continued to lead the SMo Challenge class and was holding on to a solid fourth place overall, over seven seconds ahead of the #21 Citroen driven by Christopher MacKenzie.
Ben Creanor set his quickest lap of the race with a 2:37.523 on his fourth tour. The Dunfermline-based driver had pulled out an advantage of nearly 3.5 seconds ahead of Alex Blease’s #55 Peugeot. Creanor was pushing MacKenzie for fifth place was just under two minutes remaining and found his way past on the final lap to secure fifth overall.
As the chequered flag fell, Richard Jepp took victory in the opening round of the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge and fourth place overall in a very competitive field. In a race that looked straightforward from the pit wall, how did Richard Jepp find it from the drivers seat?
“Yeah, I would have liked to have held on to third,” said Richard Jepp. “I had quite a good start but I didn’t want to get into too much of a battle with the front runners. The Student Motorsport Challenge is our main concern so I just wanted to tuck in behind the front three. I would have liked to have had more of a battle with them but I just didn’t have the speed. I was catching them in the corners and losing a bit on the straights but I’m happy with how it went.
“It all went to plan. Simple is sometimes the best strategy so I am very pleased for the team to have taken my first Student Motorsport Challenge victory of the year this weekend.”
Ben Creanor was second in class and fifth overall with Duncan Horlor completing the class podium positions.
Creanor was delighted with how the first race with his new team played out.
“I’m really pleased with that result,” said Creanor. “I was a little bit disappointed after qualifying. We had a few issues with the brakes and the difficulty of getting a clean lap meant that we weren’t where we should have been and I’m pleased that we rectified that in the race.”
“I think we finished right where we should have done. We’ve got a few niggles we need to iron out. We think we’ve got a loose mount but I’m pleased for the team. It’s the first time they’ve finished second in the Challenge and puts everyone in a good mood. Morale is up for tomorrow and we know what we need to do to make the car better. Hopefully this is the foundation of what will be a good year for the team.”
For Duncan Horlor, contact early in the 15-minute contest meant that the handling of his #11 Barracksport Citroen was not quite the same as it was for qualifying
“On the first lap I was P5 overall and second in class and I got T-boned at the first hairpin,” said the owner of this weekend’s sponsor, Acorn Printing Services Ltd. “That cost a couple of places and then I was running about eighth and we were struggling a bit with straight line speed but then I chucked it off at the first corner.
“After the impact, the car was handling a bit differently and it wouldn’t take the first corner flat and I just didn’t collect it in time. I binned it and managed to get back on and managed to hold on to the class podium at the end but the damage was done by that point.”
Race Two of the weekend’s triple-header gets underway at midday on Easter Sunday with the lights going out for the final race at 2.15pm.