Inaugural Student Motorsport Challenge gets underway at Oulton Park with double victory for East Surrey College.

The debut season of the Student Motorsport (SMo) Challenge got underway at Oulton Park on April 9 with the #57 East Surrey College Peugeot 107 of Andy Burgess taking victory in the opening two rounds.

The Student Motorsport Challenge is an inter-series within the BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup, a championship which itself was launched two years ago. The championship features 1.0-litre three-door models of the 2005-2014 Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1 road cars which have been specced by development partners Essential Racing to be easily self-built. Fully compliant cars can be bought ready to race for around £7,000.00 or can be built from donors with parts supplied by Essential Racing.

The Student Motorsport Challenge entrants joined the same grid as the CityCar Cup contestants and competed for class and well as overall honours. Apart from the challenge of setting up a race team and competing on-track, the Student Motorsport Challenge teams will be providing real-world industry experience to their team members and competing for a series of awards for off-track work.

Four teams entered the Student Motorsport Challenge for the opening weekend. East Surrey College entered their #57 Peugeot 107 with driver Andy Burgess. MET Motorsport, representing Greater Brighton Metropolitan College, joined the grid with their #65 Peugeot 107 piloted by Richard Jepp. Coleg Gwent brought their #23 Peugeot 107 driven by Daniel Lockett and Sheffield Hallam Karting campaigned the #25 Citroen C1 with Joe Miller behind the wheel.

Photo: BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship

Richard Jepp in the #65 MET Motorsport entry was quickest in qualifying, taking the first Student Motorsport Challenge pole position with a 2:20.224 on his sixth and final lap. The #65 car was 9th on the overall grid which was a considerable achievement given that the cars around him had a least a season’s worth of experience behind them. Second quickest in the SMo Challenge class was the #57 East Surrey College entry in which Andy Burgess lapped in 2:21.959. Daniel Lockett qualified third quickest in the #23 Coleg Gwent entry with Joe Miller in the SHU Karting entry completing the grid with a 2:40.711.

The first of the two 15-minute races saw a red flag and a restart due to a competitor causing barrier damage on the opening lap. At the chequered flag, Andy Burgess in the East Surrey College entry took the class victory, finishing 12th overall, with the #23 car of Daniel Lockett finishing second in class. The final podium position for the inaugural SMO Challenge race went to Joe Miller in the SHU Karting entry.

There was drama for Richard Jepp in the #65 MET Motorsport Peugeot when the car made contact with the barriers in the closing minutes. Damage meant that Jepp was unable to finish the race and the car was not able to get out for Race Two.

The second 15-minute contest saw victory again go to Andy Burgess in the East Surrey College entry with Dan Locket in the #23 Peugeot second and Joe Miller in the SHU Karting entry third.

MET Motorsport were unable to make the grid for Race Two but the team has already taken delivery of a new chassis and has already started rebuilding. MET Motorsport fully intend to be racing at the second round of the SMo Challenge at Snetterton.

Photo: Student Motorsport

John Paul ‘JP’ Latham was delighted at how the weekend had gone.

“It was great to see the four teams of the seven we have signed up to date at the track and working hard to prepare their cars for the opening weekend,” said JP Latham. “Student Motorsport and the four teams who were present at Oulton Park have all worked incredibly hard to launch the Challenge and it was extremely gratifying to see the team members hard at work in their awnings, learning the skills that will help them develop their careers as motorsport professionals.

“The damage to the MET Motorsport entry was unfortunate but] we look forward to seeing Emma Norton and her team back on track at Snetterton in May. We would like to thank the BRSCC for the way that the Student Motorsport Challenge teams were warmly welcomed into the paddock and for the way in which driving standards were upheld during the two races.

“The Student Motorsport Challenge has got off to a fantastic start!”

East Surrey College driver Andy Burgess, SMo Challenge winner in both races, was delighted at how the weekend had gone.

“I got a good start in Race One and I think we got up to eighth,” said Andy Burgess. “We got a good re-start and had some great dices before I was pushed off a little bit. We finished 12th and won the SMo Challenge trophy so I was very pleased for the team.

“The car is very good. Out of the box it handled well. We’re a little bit down on power but don’t forget that some of the CityCar Cup Championship teams have been racing in this series for two years now so they know all the little tweaks. There is still a lot for us to learn but it’s been a great start to the season.”

Dan Lockett, driver with Coleg Gwent who took two second positions in class, was realistic that there is still work to do with the limited testing that the team has had.

“It’s my first time at Oulton Park and we’ve only done three days of testing in Peugeot so it’s been an interesting start,” said Dan Lockett. “The build-up to this race weekend has been really good but very busy. The team has been putting in the hours but they’re really loving it. This is what they’ve learned in the classroom, backed up by real world experience so now it’s relevant and it makes sense to them.

“They know the car like the back of their hands and they are a team I trust to get the car ready for me so, yeah, with a watchful eye, they are getting on with it on their own.”

Joe Miller, driver for Sheffield Hallam Karting, was excited to competing in his first race in cars, having recently graduated from karting.

“It’s been absolutely amazing to participate in my first race in a car,” said Joe Miller. “To finish third in class in Race One while dealing with a mechanical issue was incredible!

“It’s been really cool to work with the Sheffield Hallam University Karting team and it’s great to get as many people into motorsport as possible. Team Principal James Merrills’ company Forward Talent Management Solutions has been supporting me for the last year to find me a seat and sponsorship and they have found me this wonderful opportunity.”

The Student Motorsport Challenge, part of the 2022 Nankang Tyre BRSCC CityCar Cup Championship, now moves to Snetterton on May 21 – 22 for rounds three and four.