(Photo: Sam Martin)
Richard Jepp made it a clean sweep of victories at Snetterton on the Opening Weekend of the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge Presented by Acorn Printing Services, the inter-series within the BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup Championship.
The Portsmouth-based engineering manager brought the #65 Team Northbrook Racing Citroen C1 home to take his third SMo Challenge victory of the weekend along with an overall fifth-place finish. Second in the SMo Challenge class was Ben Creanor, at the wheel of the #38 West Suffolk College Toyota Aygo, while Jack Wheeler secured his first podium in class, in fact his first ever podium in his racing career, in the #57 East Surrey College Citroen.
Unfortunately there were non-finishes for James Smith’s #49 Barracksport GSR Citroen following a drive-shaft failure and for Duncan Horlor in the second Barracksport-run entry.
With a partially reversed grid, Richard Jepp, class winner of the opening two rounds, started from fifth on the grid and first in class, lining up alongside Ben Creanor in the #38 West Suffolk Racing Toyota.
Duncan Horlor in the #11 Barracksport entry was 17th on the overall grid and third in the SMo Challenge class with Barracksport GSR’s James Smith 24th on the grid and fifth in class after a drive-shaft failure in Race Two. East Surrey College’s Jack Wheeler was the final driver on the overall grid after an eligibility issue was highlighted by the stewards at the end of the second race.
Creanor made an ambitious move to go three-wide into the first corner in a bid for third overall. The move was not entirely successful but the young Scottish driver held on for fourth before being passed to fall back to seventh overall and second in class.
From 25th on the grid, Jack Wheeler in the #47 East Surrey College Citroen had made up five places on the overall grid as the 15-minute contest approached the half-way point. With three cars between him and third in class Duncan Horlor, a class podium looked ambitious but the Product Engineer from Shoreham was pushing on, benefiting from his 2022 Trackday Championship experience.
Jepp, leading the SMo Challenge field, had an overall podium firmly in his sights and was up to fourth overall and less than a quarter of a second behind Andrew Dyer in the #1 Toyota.
There was disappointment for Duncan Horlor in the #11 Barracksport Citroen after the Acorn Printing Services director had to retire on his final lap with steam pouring from the engine compartment, promoting Wheeler to third in class.
As the chequered flag fell, Richard Jepp took his third class win of the weekend with a fifth-place overall finish. Ben Creanor also took his third second-place of the opening weekend after falling back to ninth overall in the closing stages.
Jack Wheeler took his first podium in class of the weekend after a being disqualified in Race Two for a technical issue.
For Richard Jepp, an engine issue in the closing stages prevented him from pushing for an overall podium.
“I pulled into the sweeping right on the back straight before the last lap into third gear and the engine stayed at the same revs all the way down the back straight,” said Richard Jepp. “I was hit in the back by Chris Mackenzie – I was like a wall in front of him – and he drove past me. I did say yesterday that the engine felt a bit tired so we’ve got a bit of work to do between now and Croft but we’ll do it.
“The car feels OK. I did take another little knock in the race as well but the car feels alright other than the engine.”
Leon Wilde, who has moved from driving the West Suffolk College entry in 2022 to Team Principal in 2023, the transition from driver to manager allows the college’s Head of Automotive to experience a different perspective of racing.
“It’s nice to see the race from a different position,” said Leon Wilde. “We can see from having a different driver with different feedback that we can learn more about the car which is good.
“We’ve got some work to do before the next round at Croft. There’s a knock we need to investigate, we need to replace the windscreen and the fire extinguisher has a leak and needs to be re-gassed but we’re planning on having a track day before the next race so we can really learn the car and hopefully get Ben Creanor to the top of the podium in class.”
The BRSCC CityCar Cup Championship grid, incorporating the Student Motorsport Challenge, next assembles at Croft on May the 6th and 7th.