Team Northbrook Racing took its fourth victory in class of the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge after Richard Jepp brought the #65 Peugeot 107 home at the head of the SMo Challenge field and third overall in the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup grid.
Second on its debut in the SMo Challenge was the #65 12 QE Motorsports (Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate) in the hands of ex-Spec Miata racer Arthur Simondet. The London-based Texan finished 11th in the overall field.
Duncan Horlor, at the wheel of the #11 Barracksport Citroen C1, completed the class podium.
The 15-minute contest saw drama at the first corner when a spin by two cars who then remained stationary on the circuit prompted the race director to throw red flag, returning the remaining field to line up on the grid in the original qualifying order. The race, as a result of the neutralisation, was reduced in duration to ten minutes.
On the re-start, Jepp retained his second but was passed shortly after by Stuart Bliss in the #18 Toyota. The TNR driver held on to third overall but the last three laps saw the #65 car come under increasing pressure from Chris Mackenzie in the #21 Citroen. Jepp defended confidently to take the chequered flag in third overall and his fourth consecutive victory in the SMo Challenge class this season.
“That was tough,” said Jepp. “Chris Mackenzie was closing in on me fast. We’re still suffering from some understeer that we had in qualifying. The car felt good, though. I felt I could hold to Stuart Bliss for a while but as soon as Elliot Lettis got past, it was hard to come out on top.
“We’re suffering a little on the balance. There’s not much you can do to these cars but we have oversteer and then a snap understeer so I’m struggling to find the sweet spot with it at the moment.”
For Arthur Simondet in the QE Motorsports Citroen, getting through the first-corner carnage required some delicate car handling.
“If you look at the size of the grid and the size of the corner, anything more than two cars wide is going to end up in a massive pile-up and that’s exactly what happened,” said Simondet. “The only thing to do is to give yourself a couple of car-lengths and that’s what I did and I still had drive round the chaos but luckily unscathed.
After the re-start Arthur Simondet found himself alone with battles behind and in front which allowed the #65 pilot the opportunity to drive his own race.
“Yeah, not too much pressure from behind and it was one of those unfortunate situations where you’re by yourself so you can’t work with anybody to catch up. At that point, all you can do is to put in the best laps that you can, follow your qualifying line and make no mistakes.”
Duncan Horlor in the #11 Barracksport entry appeared to drive a trouble-free race.
“Apart from throwing it off at Sunny In on the second lap!” said Horlor. “My first start was quite good and we were running about seventh and then it was red-flagged so I was back to about 11th. Two cars were missing and we were running again about seventh and the someone in front went off and I thought it would be nice to follow them! I lost a few places and had to work back through but it was good fun.”
George Jones in the #9 Coleg Gwent Newport car, Leon Wilde in the #26 West Suffolk college entry and Emilia Vincent, making her race debut in the SMo Challenge, finished fourth, fifth and sixth in class respectively.
James Smith in the Barracksport GSR entry completed the class finishers while Jack Wheeler in the East Surrey College Citroen made contact with the barrier after hitting oil and was unable to finish.
Racing for the Student Motorsport Challenge, part of the BRSCC Nankang Tyres City Car Cup, resumes at 2.05pm on Sunday the 7th of May for the first of two 15-minute contests.