Latest Student Motorsport Challenge

East Surrey College / Burgess Extend Challenge Lead as Creanor / OBU Student Challenge take maiden win at Cadwell Park

The 2022 Student Motorsport Challenge, the inter-series within the BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup Championship, visited the iconic circuit of Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire on the weekend of August 20th – 21st. The sweeping parkland race track was host to a packed weekend of competition under the auspices of the BRSCC and conditions were nigh-on perfect over the two days.

The SMo Challenge grid was again composed of seven entries, equalling largest number of entries so far in the 2022 season. There were some driver changes, however, as Joe Miller returned in the #25 SHU Karting (Sheffield Hallam) Citroen C1 and Ben Shaw stood in for George Jones in the #9 Coleg Gwent (Newport) Citroen.

Andy Burgess in the #57 East Surrey College Peugeot 107 led the Challenge standings after the previous rounds at Snetterton and the Aston Martin product specialist set his sights on an overall podium over the three rounds at Cadwell Park. Richard Jepp and the #65 MET Motorsport (Greater Brighton Metropolitan College) team were looking for a trouble-free run in Lincolnshire after a frustrating weekend last time out.

Ben Creanor in the #77 OBU Student Challenge (Oxford Brookes) Citroen was focused on a class win after joining the series at Snetterton and having been on the pace from the get-go in Norfolk, securing a second-place finish in his first competitive outing in the car.

All seven entries took to the circuit for qualifying for the opening race. Creanor in the #77 car went quickest in class with a 1:56.421 to start fifth overall for Race One. Andy Burgess was pushing hard to go second quickest with a 1:56.759 to start alongside Creanor on the third row of the grid. Richard Jepp in the #65 MET Motorsport entry was close to the top two with a 1:57.307 to start eighth overall. Daniel Lockett in the #23 Coleg Gwent (Blaenau) entry was fourth quickest followed by Leon Wilde in the #26 West Suffolk College car, Joe Miller in the #25 SHU Karting entry and Ben Shaw, making his racing debut, in the #9 Coleg Gwent (Newport) car.

Creanor was delighted with his qualifying performance but felt there was more in the car.

“It was a frustrating session because we couldn’t get the time and even on our best lap, we still had to deal with traffic,” said the young Dunfermline pilot. “I think it shows that we’ve still got a car that can deliver because, even dealing with cars in our way, we still managed to pull out a lap like that.”

Race One got underway under a warm and dry conditions. Although Creanor’s start from class pole was good, Andy Burgess’s was better and the #57 driver took the class lead on the opening and looked to have the race convincingly won before a mishap at the Hairpin and Barn Turn on the closing laps allowed Creanor to pass to take his first win of the Student Motorsport Challenge and be the first SMo Challenge driver to beat Andy Burgess this season.

#77 OBU Student Challenge Citroen with Ben Creanor at the wheel (Photo: Sam Martin)

Creanor was happy with the win but felt his start was compromised.

“Our start wasn’t amazing but it wasn’t bad,” said Creanor. “Our initial getaway was actually better than Andy’s but I think, with the tow and the better run, he got through. We got hung out to dry on the outside and fell down to eighth and it was then a case of fighting your way back.

“I was focusing on myself to get back up towards Andy so when the gap opened, I snuck through it. It was unfortunate for Andy to lose it like that but he knows as well as anyone that these things happen. We had a go at putting it on pole and we did that and we had a go at getting the class win and we did that so anything that happens now is experience and a bonus.”

Richard Jepp completed the class podium for Race One following an incident involving cement dust which caused contact, an off and the need to restart his engine.

Race Two saw Creanor again start from class pole and fifth overall on the 31-car grid. An off-track incident in the opening minutes for the #3 entry resulted in a Safety Car to allow for the recovery of the stricken Peugeot which had ended up on its roof. As a result of the incident, Ben Creanor dropped back to 10th overall and second in class.

Racing resumed with just over three minutes remaining, allowing for two racing laps before the chequered flag was shown to class winner Andy Burgess who took his seventh class victory of the season. Creanor came home second in class followed by Richard Jepp in third.

Andy Burgess on the podium (Photo: Sam Martin)

“I was really happy with that,” said Andy Burgess. “I could have got fourth overall I think but I’m really happy to get back on the top step and we have another race still to come.”

Race Three was the rescheduled race from Snetterton which had been cancelled due to an incident which required careful recovery. After deliberation, the BRSCC decided that the starting grid would follow the finishing positions from Race Two but competitors who had not participated in the final race at Snetterton would not be allowed to take the start.

Andy Burgess started from the overall front row, the first time a Student Motorsport Challenge entry had started in that position. Burgess took the overall lead on the opening lap and held on to the top spot for the first third of the 15-minute contest, chased hard by Stuart Bliss in the #18 car. Bliss took the lead with less than 10 minutes to go, relegating Andy Burgess to second. Andy Dyer in the #15 car passed then Burgess for second.

The safety car was called on with just over five minutes remaining after fluid was spilled on to the track. Burgess was in third and leading the SMO Challenge class with Ben Creanor in the #77 car second in class and running sixth overall. With the track needing attention and a vehicle to be recovered, the race could have finished behind the safety car, giving Andy Burgess his second class victory, but the field was offered a final lap dash. The #57 car was passed for fourth but Burgess battled hard to try and get his first overall podium.

Richard Jepp again completed the class podium positions.

Richard Jepp (Photo: Sam Martin)

“As a weekend, it’s been a bit up-and-down,” said Richard Jepp. “The team has done really well in getting the car together as always. It’s been an interesting weekend but it was good to bring it home at the end and it was a good result.”

With 12 rounds now completed, Andy Burgess and the East Surrey College team led by George Keith have extended their lead in the Student Motorsport Challenge standings and are now 21 points clear of Richard Jepp and the MET Motorsport entry.

The points standings after the Cadwell Park rounds are as follows:

East Surrey College:                        132 points

MET Motorsport:                             111 points

Coleg Gwent (Blaenau):                   95 points

West Suffolk College:                      87 points

OBU Student Challenge:                  87 points

Coleg Gwent (Newport):                  69 points

SHU Karting:                                  58 points

Student Motorsport founder and Challenge series organiser John Paul ‘JP’ Latham was again very happy with how the weekend progressed.

“Again, the Student Motorsport Challenge has lived up to its name by providing excellent on-track competition as well as the right number of challenges in the preparation and execution of a very demanding weekend,” said JP Latham. “The journey to Cadwell Park is not insignificant and it was very gratifying to see the energy, enthusiasm and sheer hard work of all the teams paying off with the teamwork and camaraderie over the weekend. This was exactly what the Challenge was designed to provide and it was great to see.

“Behind the scenes, a lot of work is taking place to lay the groundwork for an even better second season and I am looking forward to seeing all the teams assemble at Croft for the penultimate rounds in September.

“Congratulations to Ben Creanor and OBU Student Challenge for taking their first class victory!”

With six rounds remaining and 90 points on offer, there is all to play for in the inaugural season of the Student Motorsport Challenge and Andy Burgess’s 21-point lead, although making him the current Challenge favourite for the title, could be overtaken by solid results from MET Motorsport and Coleg Gwent (Blaenau).

The BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship will be back in action at Croft on September 17th – 18th.