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East Surrey College’s Wheeler take fourth Student Motorsport Challenge Powered by Visual PR win at Sunny Brands Hatch

(Photo: Sam Martin)

Jack Wheeler took his fourth victory of the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge Powered by Visual PR season when the East Surrey College driver took the chequered flag in second place overall for the opening of the Brands Hatch triple-header for round 13 – 15 of the BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup Championship.

Photo: Roger Jenkins

Finishing third overall and second in the SMo Challenge class was Richard Jepp in the #65 Team Northbrook Racing Peugeot 107 who finished 3.38 seconds behind Wheeler. Taking the final class podium position was Liam Browning in the #91 Boston College Racing Citroen. Browning finished fourth overall to make it three out of the top overall four finishers being SMo Challenge cars for the first time since the inception of the Challenge in 2022.

Photo: Roger Jenkins

Wheeler, who had qualified the #57 East Surrey College Citroen on the class pole and second on the overall grid, got away to a good start but slotted back into second as Richard Jepp in the #65 TNR car moved into third followed by Liam Browning in 4th.

Andy Dyer in the #11 Barracksport Citroen had the best start of the SMo Challenge field, moving up to 7th overall from 12th on the grid after two laps.

After three laps, the gap from Wheeler to Jepp was just under three-quarters of a second with Liam Browing holding 4th place overall, .389 seconds behind the TNR entry.

Arthur Simondet, behind the wheel of the #12 QE Motorsports Citroen, found himself in the barriers at the bottom of Paddock Hill Bend following contact with the #5 Citroen. Although both drivers thankfully suffered no injuries, the safety car was required to neutralise the race ahead of recovery of the stricken vehicles. Simondet’s car suffered left-hand side damage and will require significant repair before it re-appears for Sunday’s racing.

The race was red-flagged with just over a third of the 15 minutes remaining and the cars were returned to the grid for a six-minute shoot-out, the grid being established from the last racing lap before the safety car was called out.

Wheeler lined up alongside Elliot Lettis in the #3 Costed Racing Peugeot 107 with Richard Jepp and Liam Browning completing the second row.

On the re-start, Wheeler again had a good start but was unable to take advantage and Ellliot Lettis held the lead as Browning passed Jepp and challenged Jack Wheeler for second. Jepp regained third and started to pull out an advantage to the Boston College entry.

With three minutes remaining, SMo Challenge entries held four of the top seven overall places but Wheeler appeared to be lacking the pace to challenge for the overall lead. The East Surrey College car did, however, hold first place in class comfortably ahead of Richard Jepp and Liam Browning.

Photo: Sam Martin

Jack Wheeler took the chequered flag after six laps in second place overall, 1.181 seconds behind Elliot Lettis in the #3 Peugeot with Richard Jepp taking the final overall podium place, the #65 driver finishing over two seconds behind Wheeler’s #57 Citroen.

“I got a lot of wheelspin on the restart which didn’t help us,” said Jack Wheeler. “Elliot Lettis was just too fast over the second half of the race but I’m happy with (overall) second place.”

“I wasn’t holding back, that’s for sure, but Elliot got away very well on both starts. The rest of the weekend will be very interesting for the Student Motorsport Challenge with three cars finishing in the top overall four for the first race.”

Team Northbrook Racing’s Richard Jepp enjoyed some clean racing and is looking forward to competing for class honours again on Sunday

“It was great racing and nice and clean with Liam and Jack,” said Richard Jepp. “It’s nice to race side-by-side. These are not the fastest cars but they’re all equal which makes for some great racing. The guys at Team Northbrook Racing have done another great job with the car so hopefully we can push forward tomorrow. You’re always a little bit cautious for race one but racing drivers are racing drivers and you always go as fast as you can!”

For a brief moment, it looked as if BCR’s Liam Browning could challenge for the class win before discretion overtook valour and the #91 driver contended himself with a top-four overall finish.

“I got a good start on the restart and went round the outside of Richard Jepp and we were side-by-side for half a lap but I could see there was a high risk of contact so took it easy,” said Liam Browning.

“We got up to P2 overall coming out of Graham Hill and I took a bit too much kerb which gave me the outside line for Clearways which is not the right line. So I got behind Richard Jepp and had a few battles with him and thought I’d rather finish in third place in the Challenge than damage the car and have a lot of repairs to do.”

Photo: Roger Jenkins

“A multi-car battle at the front of Challenge class will be fun,” continued Browning. “All it takes is for one person for lose it a bit at Paddock and that’s it – everybody is past so let’s get on the back of them tomorrow. Race three will be exciting with the partial reverse grid so let’s see what happens.”

Barracksport’s Andy Dyer finished 7th in class followed by West Suffolk College’s Haydn Payne and Wiltshire College and University Centre’s Emilia Vincent.

Emilia Vincent in the #174 Wiltshire College and University Centre Toyota (Photo: Sam Martin)

Sunday August 20th sees two 15-minute races for the BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup Championship with the first contest getting underway at 10.30 and the lights going out for the final race for the Student Motorsport Challenge at 2.30pm