Latest Student Motorsport Challenge

TNR’s Jepp maintains Student Motorsport Challenge Powered by Visual PR lead as East Surrey College’s Jack Wheeler moves to second in standings.

Haydn Payne and Emilie Vincent score maiden podiums in challenging Brands Hatch Triple-Header Weekend.

Team Northbrook Racing and driver Richard Jepp maintained their lead in the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge Powered by Visual PR standings after the #65 Peugeot 107 took a second-place finish in class and a Challenge victory in Sunday’s two 15-minute contests on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit.

Following Sunday’s results in the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge, an inter-series within the BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup Championship, Emma Norton’s TNR squad holds a 43-point advantage over George Keith’s East Surrey College team with Barracksport 17 points behind in 3rd.

Race Two of the weekend for the CityCar Cup grid saw SMo Challenge teams occupy three of the top four positions on the overall grid as 34 cars lined up for the second contest of its triple-header weekend at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. Jack Wheeler in the #57 East Surrey College entry sat on the front row in class pole position with the #65 TNR Peugeot of Richard Jepp starting in third alongside Liam Browning in the #91 Boston College Racing entry on the second row.

Race Two opening laps (Photo: Sam Martin)

Wheeler took the lead as the field entered Paddock Hill Bend but there was drama as the grid started the descent down the hill with multiple cars having contact. The resulting chaos saw cars stopped on the circuit and the race neutralised to allow for attention to the affected drivers and the safe recovery of the stricken vehicles.

Caught up in the melee were the #11 Barracksport Citroen C1 driven by Andy Dyer and the #91 Boston College Racing entry driven by Liam Browning. Dyer was taken from the scene in an ambulance for medical attention but thankfully later returned to the paddock shaken but unhurt. Browning escaped with no injuries but there was much post—race discussion concerning where responsibility lay for the incident.

The clock was re-set to allow for the full 15-minute race duration and at the re-start Jack Wheeler, starting on the front row and on the outside going into turn one, got another lightning start but Elliot Lettis in the #3 car held on to the lead through Paddock Hill Bend. Jepp in the #65 car fell back to fourth overall.

Wheeler found himself under pressure from Stuart Bliss in the #18 car as another incident on the run up to Druids brought out the safety far with just over ten minutes remaining. Green flag running resumed with just 25 seconds left, allowing the field one racing lap before the chequered flag.

As race two drew to a close, Wheeler in the #57 East Surrey College entry held on to second place overall and the SMo Challenge class win, followed by Jepp in fourth overall and second in class. Completing the top three finishers in the Challenge was Haydn Payne in the #72 West Suffolk College Toyota, the first visit to the class podium for the Myerscough College student and Supercar instructor.

Haydn Payne in the #72 West Suffolk College Toyota (Photo: Sam Martin)

For the final race of the weekend for the CityCar Cup grid, Richard Jepp and Team Northbrook Racing gained the advantage, drawing third place overall on the shaken-up grid and first of the Student Motorsport Challenge entries. Jepp lined up alongside Jack Wheeler in the #57 East Surrey College car whose confidence was sky-high following two class wins around the iconic Kent circuit.

Haydn Payne in the #72 West Suffolk College entry lined up third in class on the 34-car grid followed by Emilia Vincent in #174 Wiltshire College and University Centre entry.

As the green flag fell, Jepp pushed hard on the start and took the lead going into turn one. There was disappointment, meanwhile, for Jack Wheeler and East Surrey College as the #57 car rolled to a halt at Druids after contact had led to damage to the steering. The subsequent safety car neutralised the race for three minutes but no sooner had green flag racing resumed when there was further drama out of Paddock Hill Bend when two cars ended up in the gravel, one on its side.

With nine minutes remaining, racing resumed with Team Northbrook Racing in the overall lead and Emilia Vincent in the Wiltshire College and University Centre #174 Toyota holding on to third podium spot. As the seconds counted down, Vincent had her mirrors full of the #43 Citroen and the #310 Peugeot but the Wiltshire College driver defended bravely and crossed the line in 14th place overall and third in class, her best finish of the season to date.

Richard Jepp, meanwhile, had to be content with third overall and the first of the SMo Challenge competitors. Haydn Payne hung on take second in the Challenge class to complete a highly successful weekend for the West Suffolk College team.

Race Three podium – Emilia Vincent – Wiltshire College and University Centre (Right – 3rd), Haydn Payne – West Suffolk College (Left – 2nd), Richard Jepp (Centre – 1st)

Liam Browning brought the Boston College Racing Citroen home 4th in class with Arthur Simondet rounding out the Challenge finishers.

Richard Jepp was pleased to take the Challenge victory but struggled to match the pace of the overall front runners.

“It’s been a fairly solid weekend,” said Richard Jepp. “It was a shame that Jack had damage in that last race. He’s been driving really well this weekend so I hope he’s all good and that the car’s alright. There are a few little things we need to work on but the set-up was really good and the team has done very well.”

“The top two finishers just drove past me down the straight. I was maybe a little bit quicker in the corners but they drove past me on the straights so there is not a lot you can do about that.”

For Haydn Payne, his first podium in class in race two demanded patience and discipline.

“The podium finish in race two was by default (following the incident involving Barracksport and Boston College Racing) but it was still a good fun race,” said Haydn Payne. “As soon as I saw the pit board out indicating a class podium finish, I was like ‘you guys can come through nice and clean!’ and I let a few people past and stayed in my class position to take the podium for the team.”

Emilia Vincent fought hard for her third place in class in the final race.

“It’s great but it’s been a really tough weekend – not just for us but for everyone within the CityCar paddock” said Emilia Vincent. “The races have been interrupted with red flags and re-starts and it was nice to just get our heads down and focus on what needed to be done.”

Was Emilia Vincent aware of the pressure she was under in the closing minutes of race three?

“I think I was more aware of what was going on behind me than in front!” said the Wiltshire College and University Centre driver. “It was really tricky and those two cars filled my mirrors. They did a good job trying to distract me but I held on so I’m very pleased.”

With four rounds remaining, Team Northbrook Racing leads the Student Motorsport Challenge standings on 242 points after dropped scores followed by East Surrey College Racing on 199 points. Barracksport now lie third in the standings, 12 points ahead of West Suffolk Racing who are on 170 points. QE Motorsports are 5th on 151 points, ahead of Wiltshire College and University Centre, Boston College Racing, Coleg Gwent Newport, Barracksport GSR and Menai Motorsport.

The BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup Championship including the Student Motorsport Challenge now moves to Donington Park for a double-header for the penultimate race weekend of the 2023 season on September the 9th and 10th.