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Boston College’s Browning takes two Challenge wins as TNR’s Jepp continues to lead Student Motorsport Challenge standings

Liam Browning, driver of the #91 Boston College Racing Citroen C1, took two Student Motorsport Challenge class wins at the penultimate race weekend of the season at Donington Park on September 10th and briefly held the overall lead in race two for the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship in what was a highly successful meeting for Lee Crisp’s Lincolnshire-based squad. Victory in Race one was the first win in class for the team which only entered the Challenge part-way through the season.

With two rounds remaining in the 2023 season, Emma Norton’s Team Northbrook Racing piloted by Richard Jepp look in a strong position to retain their title after the Harwin-backed driver finished third and second in class at the Donington Park National Circuit. Ahead of the season finale at Silverstone, TNR now holds a 44-point advantage at the top of the table over East Surrey College.

Photo: Sam Martin

Seven teams made up the SMo Challenge grid for the two 15-minute contests at Donington. In addition to TNR, BCR and ESC, Barracksport GSR returned with James Smith after a new car was prepared following damage at Anglesey, Smith securing two 6th places and scooping up 24 points. Fresh from podium success at Brands Hatch, Haydn Payne in the #72 West Suffolk College entry and Emilia Vincent in the #174 Wiltshire College and University Centre Toyota were both out racing as was QE Motorsport’s Arthur Simondet.

ESC’s Jack Wheeler took class pole in qualifying, lapping the 1,979 miles of the National circuit in 1:35.431, followed by BCR’s Liam Browning with a 1:35.520. Richard Jepp qualified third in class with a 1:36.042.

31 cars took to the overall grid for the opening CityCar Cup race of the weekend. For such a large grid, the start appeared to be clean but unfortunate contact on the opening lap saw Emilia Vincent’s #174 Wiltshire College and University Centre Toyota Aygo stationary in the gravel with significant damage. The car was recovered but was unable to take the restart, the team working flat out to see if the car could return for race two.

After a 15-minute red flag session, the race was re-started with five minutes on the clock, allowing for a three-lap shootout before the chequered flag was shown. Liam Browning took the class victory, finishing 5th overall, with Jack Wheeler finishing second in the Challenge class. Richard Jepp in the #65 TNR entry secured the final class podium position and 9th place overall.

Race two was the final contest of the weekend and regrettably had to be shortened due to time constraints at the circuit. The remaining spectators were delighted to see Emilia Vincent take the start after the team, with the support of a few teams in the Challenge paddock, managed to get the #174 Wiltshire College and University Centre Toyota out on the circuit. All was clearly not well with the car but valuable championship points were earned.

As the green flag dropped, there were less than seven minutes left on the clock but that did not stop the 29-car field from putting on a fantastic show of close racing. Browning again led the Challenge class, putting in the fastest lap with a 1:35.250 and briefly taking the lead before finishing 4th overall. Richard Jepp took second in class with Jack Wheeler securing the final podium position.

Haydn Payne, Arthur Simondet, James Smith and Emilia Vincent completed the Challenge finishers.

Emilia Vincent was proud to have brought the #174 Wiltshire College and University Centre car home for the final race.

“The team, myself and the rest of the Student Motorsport paddock were determined to get the car back out for race two,” said Emilia Vincent. “The awning was full of team managers, student mechanics and other Challenge drivers all working flat out to get the Aygo fixed. The camaraderie of the Student Motorsport paddock is like no other and the team and myself are hugely grateful for everyone’s time and effort.

“Thank you to everyone who helped us and got stuck in. I felt very emotional and truly grateful to be surrounded by such passionate and like-minded people. Thank you all!”

For Boston College Racing and team manager Lee Crisp, Donington’s two Challenge wins and the overall race lead in race two was reward for the passion and determination his team has displayed in 2023.

Liam Browning celebrating with Boston College Racing (Photo: Sam Martin)

Boston College Racing Team Manager Lee Crisp: “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year but to bounce back as we have and get two class wins was fantastic! It just shows that all the hard work and determination of the students has paid off. We even brought a cake in this week to celebrate with those who couldn’t make the weekend.

“We’ve changed the engine because we felt from day one that our car was down on power. We sourced a 2013 engine and it’s transformed the car and we’ve now got a package that we know can compete at the front.

“We’re currently 6th in the standings and to finish 3rd is expecting a lot. The Brands Hatch weekend cost us a lot of points. However, we now know that we can compete with the best in the field so will be giving it our all at Silverstone.”

East Surrey College, led by George Keith, enjoyed another solid weekend with 2nd and 3rd place finishes in class. The team lie second in the Student Motorsport Challenge standings, after dropped scores, on 232 points.

Photo: Sam Martin

East Surrey College Team Manager George Keith: “Donington was another great weekend of racing with Student Motorsport. We are absolutely delighted with another second and third-place finishes, adding to our points tally. Jack Wheeler, our amazing driver, did an amazing job despite challenging weather conditions in the stifling heat.

Photo: JP Latham

“We are looking forward to Silverstone and finishing the season with a full complement of students ready to back us up as we push towards the season’s final outing.”

After the Donington results, Emma Norton’s Team Northbrook Racing are now focused on finishing the season at the top of the points table.

Team Northbrook Racing Team Principal Emma Norton: “After another successful weekend, I am overjoyed at the prospect of potentially retaining our Championship title. It has been a thrilling competition with plenty of twists and turns and credit is due not just to our TNR staff and students at Northbrook College for all their hard work but also to our challengers from across the all the Student Motorsport teams.”

Team Northbrook Racing on the Donington podium.

Team Northbrook Racing driver Richard Jepp: “Going into Donington without testing and never having driven around the track was tough but we managed to qualify 3rd in class and 10th overall which new were happy about and gave us a good starting position.

“We managed to make up one place which was good and gave us a something to build on for race two. We started P9 for the second race and I went for an aggressive move into T1 and up to P6. We couldn’t make up any more places but we came home P2 in class and P6 overall so, overall, it was a good weekend with a solid points haul. It puts us in a great position going into Silverstone and the last race weekend of the year.

“Without the backing of our sponsors, we wouldn’t be able to do what we love so a huge thank you to Harwin, Onntoo, GF Machining Solutions, SMG NDT Ltd, Rocked-It and Tesouro Watches.”

Following the Donington rounds, West Suffolk Racing moves into third in the Challenge standings on 198 points adjusted for dropped scores, 16 points ahead of Barracksport who were unable to make it onto the grid for rounds 16 and 17. QE Motorsports remains in 5th position on 177 points, 21 points ahead of Boston College Racing and Wiltshire College and University Centre who are tied on 156 points. Barracksport GSR moves up to 8th following their return for Donington while Coleg Gwent Newport and Menai Motorsport complete the Challenge standings.

Student Motorsport Challenge series organiser John Paul ‘JP’ Latham: “Firstly, many congratulations to Team Northbrook Racing and Richard Jepp on continuing to lead the Challenge standings. The team, under Emma Norton’s management, has worked extremely hard to be consistent and competitive as well as offer the students the best possible learning experiences. We’re looking forward to seeing how the season concludes for the team at Silverstone.

“Secondly, huge congratulations must go to Lee Crisp, Boston College Racing and Liam Browning on their two Challenge victories here at Donington. For a team that joined the grid part way through the season, their competitiveness and success, largely down to sheer determination, professionalism and teamwork, has been great to see. After a run of bad luck and damage, their success is really well deserved.

“I also want to say a huge thank you to all the Challenge teams who pitched in to help Wiltshire College and University Centre get out for the final race of the weekend. That camaraderie and support is a fantastic demonstration of the community spirit that exists within our paddock.

“We now look forward to our final weekend of the 2023 season at Silverstone where we shall be arranging some additional activities to celebrate the end of our second season. We look forward to seeing you all there.”

The final two rounds of the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge season take place on the Silverstone International Circuit on October the 8th.