The 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge, the inter-series within the BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup Championship, gets underway at Snetterton on April 8 – 9 as part of the BRSCC TCR UK Touring Car Championship weekend at the Norfolk circuit. Five entries will be on the grid for the opening round of the second season of the SMo Challenge.
The Student Motorsport Challenge 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 schools, colleges and universities to embed into their courses by building and running their own car and team with support provided by Student Motorsport.
2022 champions Team Northbrook Racing, previously MET Motorsport, return with their Peugeot 107 to be piloted by Richard Jepp who drove the team to victory last season. The team has worked hard in the off-season to refresh their car which will be seen for the first team at Snetterton in its new orange and black livery, reflecting the brand colours of Northbrook College.
For Team Principal Emma Norton, the experiences gained in 2022 will be shaping how the team operates for the new season.
“Preparation is everything but you need flexibility and resilience as well,” said Emma Norton. “You need to be prepared for the unexpected. You can prepare as much as you want but sometimes things just don’t go to plan. With the experience of last season, we know how we need to perform, how we need to get equipment ready and how we need to involve sponsors.
“We’re delighted that Richard Jepp is returning to defend his title with us. We could not ask for a better driver and he is a very positive ambassador for the team and the college. He works brilliantly with the staff and the students and he is a pleasure to have on board.”
For Richard Jepp, the off-season has been a time of intense work and preparation.
“The off-season has been very long!” he said. “I’ve been itching to get back behind the wheel. We’ve been working hard behind the scenes and are delighted to be welcoming on board several new partners who will be supporting the team in 2023.
“I can’t wait for the new season to get underway and to be working again with Team Northbrook Racing. They’ve made a childhood dream of mine possible. The lecturers and students are a great group and we can discuss and resolve problems together just as well as we can celebrate successes. Hopefully we can push for even further success in 2023.”
East Surrey College, who led the Student Motorsport Challenge going into the final race of the year at Silverstone, return for 2023 with a new driver. Jack Wheeler will pilot the team’s Citroen C1 in only his second full-season racing. Wheeler contested the 2022 MSV Trackday Championship in the AMS Racing Ford Fiesta ST, finishing 8th in the Class C standings. The Shoreham-based production engineer intends to compete in both the SMo Challenge and the MSV Trackday Championship in 2023.
“I’m very much looking forward to the opening weekend of the Student Motorsport Challenge,” said Jack Wheeler. “I became aware of the SMo Challenge in 2022 through a work contact. I knew the team was looking for a new driver so we made contact and they offered me the drive.
“I’ve set my objective to finish in the top three of the Challenge standings. We’ve already tested the car at Thruxton and it felt great so I’m looking forward to using my Trackday Championship experience and hopefully competing for podium finishes. You’ve got to set your standards high!”
Barracksport, previously branded as OBU Student Challenge, has expanded to a two-car line-up for 2023. The Oxford-based team, who proved a revelation in 2022 by taking an overall CityCar Cup Championship victory at Croft in September, has two new drivers for their 2023 campaign. Duncan Holor will drive the Barracksport entry while Grey Sheep Racing’s James Smith will pilot the Barracksport GSR car.
For Duncan Holor, 2023 marks a return to racing after a six-year hiatus after having competed in karts, the Monoposto Championship, RGB Bikesports and GT Cup previously.
“The Student Motorsport Challenge gives team members valuable experience in real-life situations of what needs to happen when you go racing,” he said. “That can only stand them in good stead as they go forward in their careers in motorsport. I helped the team out with some teamwear in 2022 (Duncan is owner of family-run Acorn Printing Services) and when series organiser JP Latham mentioned to me that they needed a driver, I happily agreed.
“I’ve not raced for six years and I have to be realistic but as soon as the lights go out, I’ll be pushing as hard as I can to get back to the front. In other series I’ve won at Brands and Silverstone and been on the front of the grid at Croft before so you never know! But primarily I want to enjoy my racing and enjoy being part of Barracksport.”
West Suffolk College will also be fielding a new driver for 2023 as Ben Creanor joins the team, having previously competed with OBU Student Challenge, now Barracksport, in 2022. The young Dunfermline-based driver, who had experience in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series prior to joining the Student Motorsport Challenge grid in 2022, proved himself a master of CityCar Cup racing last season, taking four class wins and six further class podiums, alongside his overall victory, in 11 starts.
Creanor will be facing new challenges in switching teams but the 20-year-old Scottish driver has proved blisteringly fast and will surely be looking to challenge for the class title in his first full SMo Challenge season.
Series organiser and Student Motorsport founder John Paul ‘JP’ Latham is excited about the season ahead.
“I can’t wait to see the Student Motorsport Challenge entries out on track for the opening weekend of our second season,” said JP Latham. “After the drama and competition of the 2022, a year’s experience is going to make all the teams more confident when it comes to planning for a successful campaign and, with new drivers joining the grid, it will be fascinating to see how the early rounds play out.
“Five entries for Snetterton is a solid start for 2023 and there are more teams preparing to join us from next meeting and as the season progresses. We have teams working towards 2024, too, so there’s plenty of growth to unlock.
“I’m confident we will see another year of close competition and the kind of challenges that will help all our students gain the real-world motorsport experience that will prove invaluable in their future careers.”
Track action for the opening weekend of the BRSCC CityCar Cup Championship, incorporating the Student Motorsport Challenge, gets underway on the Snetterton 300 circuit with qualifying at 10:15 on Saturday April 8. Race One gets underway at 13:45 later that afternoon with two further 15-minute contests on Sunday April 9.