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Student Motorsport Challenge set for growth in 2023

As the Student Motorsport Challenge moves into its second season, seven teams have announced their campaigns for 2023 so far. With more entries and series partners to be announced before the opening round at Snetterton, Student Motorsport and the CityCar Cup Championship are set for an important year for growth.

The Student Motorsport Challenge, the inter-series within the BRSCC CityCar Cup Championship, was launched in 2022. Founded and organised by John Paul ‘JP’ Latham, the SMo Challenge is designed to provide an affordable and sustainable project for colleges and universities to embed into their courses by building and running their own car and team with support provided by Student Motorsport.

Whilst the Challenge was initially designed with a focus on Automotive and Motorsport courses, it is also being used to integrate students from broader subject areas such as Marketing & Media, Art & Design, Hospitality, Sports Science and Business.

Four teams were on the Student Motorsport Challenge grid for the opening round of the 2022 season and by the final round Challenge entries had grown to seven. The BRSCC CityCar Cup Championship is highly competitive series which features 1.0litre, 3d-door models of the 2005-14 Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1. The carefully designed technical regulations ensure that not only do all cars deliver equal track performance but they also look, sound, handle and feel like ‘proper’ cars. The Student Motorsport Challenge is the perfect first step for allowing students to gain experience in the motorsport industry within a proper racing championship.

#57 East Surrey College Peugeot 107 driven by Andy Burgess (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

The debut season the SMO Challenge was highly competitive with the #57 East Surrey College entry driven by Aston Martin Product Specialist Andy Burgess unbeaten in the early rounds and the likely favourite for the title. Richard Jepp, driver of the #65 MET Motorsport Peugeot, had to overcome an opening round accident that resulted in the team acquiring a new chassis for the second weekend at Snetterton and two non-points scoring rounds for the Harwin-sponsored driver.

Jepp was never off the podium for the rest of the season and, ably assisted by a trio of victories by Andrew Jones at Anglesey, the South Coast-based team entered the final weekend at Silverstone with a fighting chance of the title. Class wins in the opening two contests meant that Jepp was within a single-digit points range of Challenge leader Andy Burgess. However, a very unfortunate contact for Burgess during the final race resulted in a DNF for East Surry College and the title for Richard Jepp and MET Motorsport.

Although all the Student Motorsport Challenge teams were crewed by learners at various stages of their education, there was no lack of professionalism or enthusiasm across the grid. OBU Student Challenge (Oxford Brookes) joined the Challenge at Anglesey and were joined at Snetterton by young Scottish pilot Ben Creanor. Creanor and OBU Student Challenge proved to be a revelation with the team taking their first class win at Cadwell Park in August.

As the Student Motorsport Challenge moves into its second season, seven entries have currently committed for 2023. More entries will be announced before the opening round at Snetterton.

Team Northbrook Racing, formerly MET Motorsport, will be returning to defend their title. Richard Jepp will be back in the driving seat of the team’s Peugeot 107. Jepp has been busy in the off-season and the yellow #65 entry will be sponsored by the Harwin Group, Tesouro Timepieces, Onntoo, Demon Tweeks and Amigo Wraps.

Team Northbrook Racing Team Manager Emma Norton: “Last year was the most amazing learning journey for all of our students and I have to say staff as well. The Student Motorsport Challenge provided real hands-on industry experience of the kind of quality that would be hard to find in any other format.

“The off-season has been surprisingly brief. I think we were expecting it to be long and drawn out but it’s actually whizzed past and we can’t wait to get back out on track again for test days at the end of March.

MET Motorsport (now Team Northbrook Racing) with team manager Emma Norton (L) Photo: Roger Jenkins

“In Richard Jepp, we could not have asked for a better driver but Richard isn’t just a driver; he’s a positive ambassador for the team and the college. He works brilliantly with the staff and the students. We are delighted to have him back in the driving seat for us this year.”

Barracksport, renamed from 2022’s OBU Student Challenge, will return in 2023 with a new driver after Ben Creanor made the step-up to the BRSCC Audi TT Cup in an entry that will also be run by Harry O’Donoghue’s Oxford-based squad. After joining the SMo Challenge at Anglesey, the team worked hard to become a highly-efficient, well-managed crew without the direct influence of a college lecturer or tutor.

Barracksport, named after Barracks Lane in Oxford where discussions about the formation of the team first took place, understand the challenges of running two entries, both in different championships.

Barracksport Team Manager Harry O’Donoghue: “It’s going to be a challenge for sure but we’ve got a good, solid team – we’re all friends, first and foremost – so we’ve got a good solid connection between everyone. There will be a lot of work behind the scenes between race weekends to ensure that when we arrive at the next round, we’re ready.

“The main objectives for us is to represent ourselves and build on the foundations we laid in 2022. I will be happy of everyone finishes the season on October feeling that they’ve done their best – that’s all we could ask for.”

OBU Student Challenge (now Barracksport) – Silverstone – October 2022 (Photo: Sam Martin)

Barracksport is currently in discussions with several drivers and expect to make an announcement in due course.

West Suffolk College will return for the 2023 season, led by Head of Automotive Leon Wilde. Leon Wilde made his racing debut in 2022, gaining his ARDS licence just days before the opening round at Oulton Park. The team worked hard throughout the season and Wilde gained confidence with every round, culminating in his first podium in class at the Challenge’s final race at Silverstone.

The team are currently hard at work preparing their Toyota Aygo for the new season. A new driver for the #26 car will be announced shortly.

East Surrey College will be back on the Student Motorsport Challenge grid for 2023. George Keith’s Redhill-based squad was unbeatable in the early part of the 2022 season and the squad will be looking to re-capture that form with its distinctive black Peugeot 107 when the season gets underway at Snetterton in April. Sponsored by Bossdog Graphics, the team will have a new driver for 2023.

A team that did not get the recognition it deserved in 2022, Coleg Gwent Newport, will be back for the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge. Coleg Gwent Newport Lecturer and Technician George Jones will return to drive following a season that saw the #9 entry finish on the podium on five occasions. The team worked hard at sponsorship in 2022 and retain backing from Hoodhill Motor Company, GSF Parts and Crossfords Oil and Tool Supplies for the new season.

The Student Motorsport Challenge will welcome two new entrants to the grid in 2023.

Coleg Menai will enter its Peugeot 107 to support its new Motorsports Level 3 qualification that will run alongside its aeronautical, mechanical and electrical courses. The team has ten learners studying for the motorsports qualification with the team planning to join the grid for the Anglesey rounds. After purchasing the donor car and the parts kit, the team is well on its way to being race-ready for 2023.

Coleg Menai Deputy Programme Area Manager Engineering Arron Peel: “The car’s nearly finished. We’ve put all our time and effort into the vehicle and it’s there with just a few minor points to complete.

“So far we’ve mainly looked at the mechanics side of the vehicle. We’re now looking to develop our social media within the department and within the college as well. We need to work closely with our business team to see how we can replicate this in the coming years and build a project from it. The whole idea is to learn and gain a qualification from a project that is inspiring others and motivate and enthuse other learners to be part of something bigger.”

Queen Ethelburga’s College near York announced in March that it would be the first school to enter a team in the Student Motorsport Challenge. 2022 Challenge entrant Barracksport joined series organiser and Student Motorsport founder JP Latham at the school when the parts kit was presented and provided guidance on their preparation for the season ahead. OBU Student Challenge driver Ben Creanor, the first Challenge driver to take an overall race victory in the BRSCC CityCar Cup Challenge, was on hand to give the new team his insights into how to prepare a competitive race car.

Students and staff will be part of the crew as Queen Ethelburga’s College prepares for its first season in the SMo Challenge. The team is currently looking for interested drivers.

Student Motorsport founder John Paul ‘JP’ Latham being presented with the 2022 BRSCC John Nicol Memorial Trophy by Mrs D Nicol. (Photo: Andy Lloyd)

Student Motorsport founder, SMo Challenge organiser and 2022 John Nicol Memorial Trophy winner John Paul ‘JP’ Latham: “After the excitement of the season finale at Silverstone and the hard work of the off-season in preparing entries for 2023, I can’t wait to see our teams out testing as we approach the opening rounds of this year’s Student Motorsport Challenge.

“Our inaugural season in 2022 not only provided excellent racing, it also presented the kind of situations that make the Student Motorsport Challenge the perfect series to give aspiring motorsport professionals real-world trackside experience. The wide-range of experience Challenge participants gain is invaluable as they begin their careers in the industry.

“We are delighted to welcome Coleg Menai and Queen Ethelburga’s College to our paddock this season. I wish them enjoyable and productive seasons that they will look back on with pride and satisfaction.

“To all our 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge entrants for 2023, it is great to see you back on the grid and if this season is half as challenging and exciting as 2022, then we’re in for a cracking year!”

With a month to go before the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge gets underway at Snetterton, there will be additional entrants and returning and new partnerships announced before the lights go out for the first race of the season.