Latest Student Motorsport Challenge

OBU Student Challenge / Creanor Make It Three Out Of Three as Challenge grid takes Top Honours at Croft

Ben Creanor and the #38 OBU Student Challenge Citroen C1 crew completed a perfect weekend as the Dunfermline-based driver took pole position in the opening qualifying session and then raced to a trio of podium positions, culminating in an outright win in Race Three, the first for an SMo Challenge entry in its debut season.

The Student Motorsport Challenge is an inter-series within the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship. The Challenge is open to colleges and universities with the objective of providing real-world experience across all aspects of motorsport, including mechanics, management, logistics, hospitality and media, for students looking to develop a career in the industry.

North Yorkshire’s Croft circuit saw Rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the 18-round Championship and seven Student Motorsport Challenge were on the grid. Up until the previous rounds at Cadwell Park, East Surrey College’s Andy Burgess had been unbeaten across all the rounds the team had entered. That changed in Lincolnshire with the breakthrough victory of Ben Creanor and the OBU Student Challenge (Oxford Brookes) team who took their maiden win in the Cadwell Park sunshine.

The opening 15-minute qualifying session saw Creanor in the #38 Citroen take class pole with a 1:51.423. In a 31-car grid, the SMo Challenge entries put three cars in the overall top seven with Richard Jepp lapping in 1:51.525 to start second in class and fifth overall while standings leader Andy Burgess put in a 1:52.115 to position the East Surrey College entry third in class and seventh on the overall grid.

Daniel Lockett would start Race One fourth in class while further down the grid Joe Miller, returning in the #25 SHU Karting Citroen C1 put in a 1:56.646 to go quickest of the remaining Challenge entries and nearly a second quicker than George Jones in the #9 Coleg Gwent Newport Citroen. Leon Wilde completed the SMo Challenge grid after putting in 1:58.354 in the #26 West Surrey College Toyota Aygo.

Race One saw the top three in class finish in their starting grid order but history was made as Ben Creanor took the first overall podium position for the Challenge, the young Scot finishing third overall as he took his second SMo Challenge class race victory of the season.

Creanor fought hard in the overall top three and there was barely a cars length between any of them in the 15-minute skirmish. At the chequered flag, Creanor was less than a second behind second-placed Andrew Dyer in the #15 Citroen C1 who himself was just over half a second behind race winner Richard Bliss in the #17 Toyota.

Photo: James Roberts Photography

However, it was further down the grid where we saw more highly competitive racing with Leon Wilde passing both George Jones and Joe Miller to take fifth in class behind Daniel Lockett. Wilde’s confidence has increased with every race with Suffolk-based college lecturer now finding his pace much earlier in the race weekend. Despite a couple of off-track moments, Wilde held his nerve to demonstrate how much his race craft has improved in his debut season in the Challenge.

Race Two saw some hard racing at the front with Elliot Lettis sliding off at Turn One and nearly causing some major damage to his brand-new racecar, a replacement following a major incident at Cadwell Park. Creanor led for one lap, the first time a Challenge car has been at the front in a race. Whereas the first race had seen a procession at the front, Race Two saw some trading of places and Creanor was unlucky to miss out on his debut overall win when he finished just .218 seconds behind Richard Bliss in the winning #17 Autobliss Toyota. Richard Jepp took another second place in class, finishing outside the podium places in fourth, just over nine seconds behind the final podium finisher, Andrew Dyer in the #15 Citroen C1.

Andy Burgess took the final podium position, finishing seventh overall.

It was in Race Three, however, that the breakthrough happened and a Student Motorsport Challenge entry took its first overall victory when Ben Creanor brought the OBU Student Challenge entry home to take overall honours. The grid for the front-running starters was drawn by lottery, which put the East Surrey College entry on the front row with Richard Jepp in the MET Motorsport car on the second row. Ben Creanor in the #38 car was to start from sixth, a grid position from which one of his team mates placed a bet that if the young Scot was to win, he would shave his head. The bet was to prove prophetic with Creanor driving one of the best races of his career.

Photo: James Roberts Photography

Andy Burgess led after the opening lap but Creanor was moving up the field and was in second place after three laps. By the start of lap six, the #38 car was less than a quarter of a second behind Richard Bliss in the #17 entry. Creanor took the overall lead on lap six and managed to pull out a gap of just over a second to Richard Bliss in the #17 car before taking the chequered flag with a lead of a third of a second.

Richard Jepp in the #65 car was second in class and fourth overall while Andy Burgess completed a trio of third place finishes with an overall sixth-place finish.

With 45 points on offer over the final three contests, the race for the Challenge title is close with the BRSCC currently confirming, at time of writing, the points for both the overall standings and the Student Motorsport Challenge, including the dropped scores. The benefits of nearly a seasons-worth of racing was clearly beginning to show across the Student Motorsport Challenge grid. Novice drivers who approached qualifying and the first race with an understandable degree of trepidation were now far more confident and that experience could be seen in lap times.

SHU Karting’s Joe Miller, competing in only his third race weekend, improved his best lap time by nearly a second and a half between Race One and Race Three. In addition, the team members themselves now have upwards of ten or more races under their belts and have a greater understanding of how to structure their race weekend programmes. Challenges such as damage repair, questions in scrutineering and drivers requirements for set-up changes no longer hold the same fear that they might have done on the opening weekend at Oulton Park and students are ever more work-ready.

Photo: James Roberts Photography

Student Motorsport founder and Challenge organiser John Paul ‘JP’ Latham was delighted at how the Croft weekend had unfolded.

“This weekend saw a breakthrough for the Student Motorsport Challenge with the first overall victory for a Challenge entry and it was an emotional one for both myself, the BRSCC team and the paddock as a result.

“OBU Student Challenge’s victory, given that this is a team that have made this happen by themselves, reminded me of my race finishes and wins when I was starting my motorsport career. I am keen to make sure that they really enjoy the experience and make sure those memories stick.

“The Challenge is living up to its title of providing real-life motorsport challenges to the teams and how they prepare for, and execute their race weekend programmes and develop the working relationships with their drivers. This will be of great benefit as they prepare for their full-time careers in the industry.

“We now move to Silverstone for what will be a gripping climax to the season and we are sending an open invitation to colleges, UTC’s and universities to join us to see how they can get involved and benefit from the Student Motorsport Challenge. (Please contact JP at for details).

“Preparations for 2023 are now well-advanced and I am delighted at how each team, and driver, has grown in experience and confidence over the course of the last few months.”

The final three rounds of the BRSCC CityCar Cup Championship, incorporating the Student Motorsport Challenge, get underway at Silverstone on October 16th – 18th.