MET Motorsport, the team based at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College, dominated proceedings at Rounds Five, Six and Seven of the 2022 Student Motorsport Challenge, the inter-series which forms part of the BRSCC CityCar Cup Championship, when the championship visited Trac Môn Anglesey Circuit on June 18 – 19.
The opening two weekends of the 2022 season had seen Andy Burgess, at the wheel of the #57 East Surrey College Peugeot 107, take four wins out of four to led the SMo Challenge standings by 24 points ahead of SHU Karting.
With both East Surrey College and SHU Karting absent from the Anglesey due to personal commitments, it was down to Andrew Jones, stepping in for Met Motorsport’s Richard Jepp who was also absent to a pre-arranged commitment, to fight for class honours on behalf of Emma Norton’s Sussex-based squad.
After having reviewed the opportunities offered by the SMo Challenge, the paddock welcomed a new entrant to the series at Anglesey – students from Oxford Brookes University, racing as OBU Student Challenge Team. Harry O’Donaghue and his team had worked flat out to get the #77 Citroën C1 onto the grid, the car being rented by the series parts supplier Essential Racing and driven by Paul Toolan, brother of Essential Racing founder Simon Toolan.
OBU Student Challenge Team had tested at the circuit on the Thursday so entered the race weekend armed with critical data and a great team spirit as qualifying approached.
Also new to the Challenge grid was Richard Cooper, a tutor at Gwent, who was handling the driving duties in the #23 Coleg Gwent (Blaenau) Peugeot.
Class pole in qualifying went to Andrew Jones in the #651 car who lapped the 2.1-mile Anglesey circuit in 2:00.661 and earned himself a ninth-place overall start position in a 31-car grid. Paul Toolan in the OBU Student Challenge Team car was second quickest in class with a 2:01.615 and George Jones, Leon Wilde (participating in only his second race weekend) and Richard Cooper filled the remainder of the class grid slots.
With the race weekend incorporating three contests for the BRSCC CityCar Cup Championship field, victory in all three races went to Andrew Jones in the MET Motorsport car, with Paul Toolan in second and Coleg Gwent Newport’s George Jones completing the podium positions.
Leon Wilde finished a creditable fourth in class and drove steady and controlled races, making sure he brought the West Suffolk College Toyota Aygo home in all three races. Richard Cooper took fifth in class.
With experience in Citroen C1 endurance racing, Andrew Jones had been looking forward to the sprint race format in the SMo Challenge and he was delighted to take a clean sweep of wins for MET Motorsport.
“It was great to take three first places after having never driven the car before qualifying!” said Jones. “I have driven a C1 before but this car felt a lot different so I was absolutely chuffed!”
“I was wary in the first race. It was my first time in the car and I wanted to bring it home in one piece. The second race was probably the race I enjoyed the most as I was racing against two other cars with a bit of a gap behind so I didn’t have to worry about someone catching me.
“The third race was more ‘stay out of trouble’ than anything else. I went three-wide into the second and third bend and then I had a wing mirror knocked so I couldn’t see back on the right-hand side. I then followed one of the Bitcoin cars until the race finished under the safety car.
“The weekend was great fun and I’m happy to get involved in the future if it’s for this year or next season.”
Paul Toolan in the #77 Oxford Brookes entry ran a strong second in class across the three races, giving Oxford Brookes University a positive debut in the Student Motorsport Challenge. Team Principal Harry O’Donoghue was pleased with his team’s success on its first outing and is looking forward to returning to the series.
“The weekend went better than we expected,” said O’Donoghue. “We had ideas and plans of how we wanted the weekend to go but we’re incredibly happy to walk away with three podiums in three races – it couldn’t have gone much better! We wanted a maiden win but we’ve got to walk away happy with what we had.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better relationship between the team and our driver, Paul Toolan. We all clicked pretty quickly and by race three we had the set-up nailed and the synergy we had at the end was great. I would like a say a huge thank you to Simon Toolan at Essential Racing for providing the car and to Paul Toolan for stepping up at the last minute to drive for us.”
“We’ll do everything in our power to make sure we’re around for the rest of the season and, hopefully, we’ll be able to carry through into next season.”
For Student Motorsport founder and series organiser John Paul ‘JP’ Latham, the weekend was the best so far for the growing series.
“It was the best weekend yet for me!” he said. “As a Student Motorsport paddock, the effort and the camaraderie were through the roof. The teams were asking about next season and the competition was as strong as ever but they were helping each other.
“The Oxford Brookes team showed real star quality. They carried out a very rewarding test on the Thursday and carried that sense of commitment through into the weekend. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the Oxford Brookes team’s performance to come away with three second places.
“Every Student Motorsport Challenge team worked incredibly hard and I cannot wait to see how the Challenge will unfold over the course of the season”
Following the three rounds at Anglesey, MET Motorsport now provisionally leads the Student Motorsport Challenge standings on 69 points, with East Surrey College in second place on 60 points. Coleg Gwent (Newport) move into third place with 50 points followed by Coleg Gwent (Blaenau) on 48. West Suffolk College sits in fifth place on 45 points followed by Oxford Brookes and SHU Karting on 36 points each.
The BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup Championship will be back in action on July 23 – 24 for rounds eight, nine and ten.