(Photo: Sam Martin)
Richard Jepp, at the wheel of the #65 Team Northbrook Racing Peugeot 107, took pole position in the Student Motorsport Challenge class and second overall in the BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup Championship at Croft Circuit. Jepp lapped in 1:52.552 on his final tour of eight in the 15-minute qualifying session.
The Student Motorsport Challenge is sponsored for its Croft weekend by Rocked-!T motorsport luggage who have offered one of their kit bags as a prize for the team who provides the best social media content featuring their product.
“I’m very happy with that,” said Richard Jepp. “The car felt good and the team has worked very hard since the last outing to find the little engine problems we had at Snetterton.”
Asked about the possibility of an overall win, Richard Jepp was cautiously optimistic that the Brighton-based team could compete for overall honours.
“The pole-sitter is about a second quicker than us but he has been testing all week and we haven’t been testing – we just went straight out today so it could happen. You never know in a race!”
Second in class on only his second SMo Challenge weekend was Jack Wheeler in the #57 East Surrey College Citroen who lapped the 3.423 kms of the North Yorkshire circuit in 1.53.149. Wheeler’s pace was sufficient to place the Shoreham-based driver fifth on the overall grid on only his first visit to the circuit.
“I’m very pleased with that,” said Wheeler. “The car felt fantastic. On the first couple of laps I took it steady to work out my braking points and lines. After that I had to go for it to see what I could do. Each lap I was improving but I was trying to progress slowly rather than push it and make mistakes.”
Completing the top three in class was Duncan Horlor in the #11 Barracksport entry. Horlor put in a 1:54.123.
Rounds four, five and six of the 2023 SMo Student Challenge sees two teams making their series debut. Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, the only sixth-form school entry on the grid and competing for the first time at Croft, have Arthur Simondet behind the wheel of their #12 Citroen who qualified fourth in class with a 1:55.626. Simondet has experience in Spec Miatas (Mazda MX5s) in his home state of Texas and is combining his season with QE College and the Student Motorsport Challenge with a season in C1 Endurance Championship. Many congratulations must go to QE College for the work that went into getting their entry to the grid for the Croft Weekend.
“Croft is in an interesting circuit because it’s fast but there’s also some slow sections as well where you feel you have to give up a lot and capture it back in the straights but it’s a great circuit and I had a lot of fun,” said Simondet. “Considering QE College has just put the car together and it’s the first time for it on the circuit, the car is incredible. We tested on Friday in both wet and dry sessions and, considering the car has never seen a track before. It’s fantastic! We made some very minor changes in the morning but that’s about it.”
Leon Wilde returns to driving duties for West Suffolk College and lapped the team’s #26 Toyota Aygo in 1:58.181 to qualify fifth in class in his first competitive outing since taking a podium at the final contest of the 2022 season at Silverstone.
The second team making its debut at Croft was Wiltshire College with its driver Emilia Vincent. The team have extensive experience in racing at their home circuit of Castle Combe but 2023 is their first venture into a national series. Emilia Vincent enjoyed a trouble-free session to lap in 1:58.914 to finish sixth in class.
“I absolutely loved it!” said Emilia Vincent. “The track is smooth and a bit technical with some fast sections but I really loved it. I didn’t have trouble in the session and my experience in Castle Combe Hot Hatches definitely helped me as I’m used to a busy grid. The car felt very good and I’m really happy with it. It’s doing everything we want it to do and it’s done well.”
Coleg Gwent Newport’s George Jones qualified seventh in class while James Smith in the second Barracksport entry suffered an electrical problem which caused the car to stop on the circuit. The tech entrepreneur will start from the back of the grid but is confident that the pace is in the car to compete effectively in race one.
The first race of the BRSCC CityCar Cup Championship Croft triple-header gets underway at 14:25 on Saturday May 6th.