Latest Student Motorsport Challenge

East Surrey College Back at Top of Standings After Dramatic Student Motorsport Challenge Weekend at Snetterton

MET Motorsport Win Pit Stop Challenge Final

The 2022 Student Motorsport Challenge, the inter-series within the BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup Championship, returned to Snetterton on July 23rd – 24th after having first visited the Norfolk circuit in May. Seven cars were on the SMo Challenge grid after the return of the #57 East Surrey College Peugeot 107 piloted by Andy Burgess. The Challenge welcomed two new drivers to the paddock. Sim racer and university karting competitor Alexander Walker joined the Sheffield Hallam Karting team to pilot the #25 Citroen C1 while ex-EuroNASCAR driver Ben Creanor, owner of Creanor’s Fleet Management Ltd, was in the driving seat of the #77 Oxford Brookes University OBU Student Challenge entry.

With Andy Burgess and the East Surrey College team absent from the previous three rounds at Anglesey, MET Motorsport had taken the lead in the Challenge standings following a trio of victories for Andrew Jones, deputising for regular driver Richard Jepp, in the yellow #65 MET Motorsport Peugeot 107.

The weekend at Snetterton got off to a frustrating start for Emma Norton’s MET Motorsport after an issue was discovered with a weld on a roll cage mount during scrutineering. The result was that the #65 car had to undergo further work which meant that the car was unable to qualify and join the grid for Race One, Round Eight. The team enlisted the assistance of AutoBliss Motorsport and RTW Motorsport and the car was ready to join the grid in time for Sunday’s two planned contests.

Qualifying got under way as track temperatures started to climb with Andy Burgess starting where he left off by putting the #57 car on class pole with a 2:38.355. Just under half a second behind, and showing the benefit of his stock car experience, was Ben Creanor in the #77 OBU Student Challenge entry.

Dan Lockett was back in the driving seat for Coleg Gwent Blaenau and went third quickest in class with a 2:42.415. George Jones qualified the #9 Coleg Gwent Newport Citroen fourth in class with a 2:44.377 whilst Leon Wilde in the #26 West Suffolk College Toyota was fifth quickest, lapping in 2:45.504. Wilde was displaying the results of his hard work in his rookie season by qualifying just under ten seconds quicker than he did the last time the BRSCC CityCar Cup Championship visited Norfolk.

Newcomer Alex Walker rounded out the SMo Challenge grid for Round Eight with a 2:46.439.

Race One, Round Eight, saw a class lights-to-flag victory for the #57 East Surrey College Peugeot in a race shortened by four minutes. Second in class, and battling hard throughout the 11-minute contest, was Ben Creanor in the #77 OBU Student Challenge entry.

Dan Lockett completed the class podium in the #23 Coleg Gwent Blaenau entry.

George Jones was forced to retire the #9 Coleg Gwent Newport Citroen after contact with the sister #23 car. The #9 car was recovered back to the awning where the team immediately set to work to get the car repaired in time for Sunday’s two 15-minute contests.

Leon Wilde completed the class finishers in the #26 West Suffolk College entry after Alex Walker in the #25 SHU entry was unclassified due to a red flag infringement.

The race was red flagged with four minutes remaining due to a car overturned on the circuit. Richard Ince, Team Manager for East Surrey College, was convinced the Andy Burgess could have finished even further up the order had it not been for the early finish.

Richard Ince – East Surrey College Team Manager: “The team has done a great job. They’ve set the car up as it should be. They’re dedicated as they’ve come in on their holiday. They’ve liaised with the driver and got the car set up as Andy Burgess wanted it and it all went according to plan.

“We think we can gain another place overall in Sunday’s races. We could have taken fifth this afternoon if the race hadn’t been cut short.”

Race Two on Sunday saw the return of Richard Jepp in the MET Motorsport car. In rising temperatures, Andy Burgess secured his second class win of the weekend, bringing the #57 car home in fifth overall with Richard Jepp in second with Dan Lockett taking third place. Leon Wilde came home in fourth whilst Alex Walker recorded his first race finish with a fifth place in the #25 SHU Karting entry.

Photo: Roger Jenkins

Ben Creanor in the #77 Oxford Brookes entry encountered electrical problems that forced the young Dunfermline pilot to bring his Citroen back to the pits after one lap. After the race, the team, led by Harry O’Donoghue, set about finding the fault which was eventually traced to a low voltage and battery problem. The battery was changed and the car was ready to join the grid for the final race.

The final race of the weekend, Round Ten, was red-flagged and then cancelled after a competitor overturned his car out on the circuit but not before the #77 car had made up a number of places on the opening lap.

Away from the racing, a highlight of the weekend was the final of the Student Motorsport Pit Stop Challenge which was held in the SMo team awnings on the Saturday afternoon. The Pit Stop Challenge contest was designed to demonstrate the abilities of the teams and simulated a stop where the car had been damaged as a result of an ‘off’ due to wet conditions. The teams had to change two wheels, adjust tyre pressures and suspension settings, clean the screen, change the driver, replace the air filter and return their tools to their correct places, all the while demonstrating a controlled and orderly approach to the tasks. Time penalties were applied if tasks were not carried out correctly.

Photo: Andy Lloyd

To add to the excitement and pressure for the teams, the event was live-streamed by Ian Waterhouse of My Supercar Live.

The Pit Stop Challenge Final was won by MET Motorsport in a time of 2:29.38, a fitting reward after Emma Norton’s squad had endured a frustrating day due to the roll cage issue identified in scrutineering.

Second in the Pit Stop Challenge was Coleg Gwent Blaenau followed by Coleg Gwent Newport.

For series organiser John Paul ‘JP’ Latham, the success of Pit Stop Challenge was a significant step forward in the development of the Student Motorsport Challenge.

Student Motorsport Founder, JP Latham: “There weren’t too many penalties across the board and everyone improved from the times they set in the first round. There was the added pressure of the live streaming but it was a wonderful thing to be broadcast to our wider audience. It illustrated another aspect of the Challenge – that it’s about driving forward, learning, putting people under pressure, teams benchmarking themselves against other like-minded people and instilling professionalism. It was a really successful event.”

Winners MET Motorsport were awarded a trophy sponsored by the BRSCC, a set of tyres supplied by CityCar Cup Championship sponsor Nankang Tyres and a car detailing kit provided by new series sponsor CARSPüNK.

Reflecting on what was a busy and demanding weekend for the Student Motorsport Challenge and its competitors, JP Latham was delighted that the teams are being presented with real-life issues from which they can learn and grow.

Student Motorsport Founder, JP Latham: “For me, this was the best weekend of the Challenge season so far because we had crashes, breakdowns and scrutineering problems. You don’t want them all the time but you do want them at some point because it’s demonstrating the reality of motorsport. It puts the students and the tutors under the right amount of pressure and it just unfolded wonderfully. It was the essence of what the Challenge is all about.

“Remember that this is not just a race series – the SMO Challenge is providing essential experience and learning opportunities for the students and, in many ways, it was the perfect race weekend with a whole mix of eventualities that led to a successful weekend in many ways.”

After rounds eight and nine, East Surrey College has reclaimed the lead in the standings on 90 points, followed MET Motorsport on 81. The current standings in the Student Motorsport Challenge, as the season moves into its second half, are as follows:

East Surrey College                         90

MET Motorsport                               81

Coleg Gwent Blaenau                       68

West Suffolk College                        63

Coleg Gwent Newport                      57

OBU Student Challenge                    48

SHU Karting                                   44

The BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup Championship now moves to Cadwell Park on August 20th and 21st for Rounds 11 and 12.