Student Motorsport Challenge hits new heights as ten entries compete at Anglesey

BCR Team and Workshop

After two exciting weekends at Snetterton and Croft to open the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge, the series travels west for a triple-header weekend at Trac Môn Anglesey on the 24th and 25th of June. The weekend will be supported by PBS Brakes, the leading race- and track-day brake pad manufacturer who already support several MSA championships.

The North Wales rounds will see ten teams competing for class honours, another record entry for the UK’s only education-based motorsport championship, as two new entries join the grid; Boston College from Lincolnshire and local team Coleg Menai. More on those two new entrants later.

Following the Student Motorsport Challenge’s previous outing at North Yorkshire’s Croft, South Coast-based Team Northbrook Racing holds a commanding lead in the class standings. Thanks to Richard Jepp’s clean sweep of class victories across all six rounds so far in 2023, combined with extra points for fastest laps, Emma Norton’s squad holds 49-point advantage over Harry O’Donoghue’s Barracksport entry piloted by Duncan Horlor.

As the Challenge moves to Anglesey, Harwin-backed Richard Jepp may find that he faces stiffer competition than he did in the opening two weekends. QE Motorsport’s Arthur Simondet has been getting to grips with the team’s Citroen C1 and has built on his experience in CityCar racing with outings in the C1 Endurance Series. New entrant Boston College has Liam Browning behind the wheel. Browning is one of the most experienced drivers in the BRSCC Nankang Tyres CityCar Cup Championship, having competed in the very first race weekend for the then-new series in 2021 and going on to finish 4th in the standings in 2021.

Barracksport’s return to Anglesey will be a poignant one as the Welsh circuit was where the Oxford-based team, then named OBU Student Challenge Team, made their Challenge debut in 2022. Last year Harry O’Donoghue’s team fielded one car and celebrated a successful weekend with a trio of class podiums.

In 2023 Barracksport returns with a two-car line-up. In the #11 Citroen C1 regular driver Duncan Horlor steps away from the driving seat to support his son who is a successful karter. Replacing the Acorn Printing Services owner for rounds seven, eight and nine will be team member Matty Prance.

In the #49 Barracksport GSR entry, tech entrepreneur James Smith will be looking to build on the momentum gained from Croft in May. After an unlucky start due to mechanical issues at the opening weekend at Snetterton, Smith finished all three races at Croft and currently lies fifth the Student Motorsport Challenge standings.

It’s “all change” at West Suffolk College after Team Principal Leon Wilde moved on to take up a new career challenge after the three rounds at Croft. Wilde not only drove the team’s entry but led the team throughout its debut season in 2022 and for the start of 2023. WSC Course Director Alan Barrett now takes charge of the team, who were the first to commit to the Challenge when entries opened in 2022. The #72 Toyota Aygo will be sporting a new, blue livery when the car is unveiled at Anglesey and will also be welcoming a new driver. Haydn Payne moves into the driving seat.

Supercar instructor and Myerscough College student Haydn Payne is looking forward to developing his driving career at WSC.

“West Suffolk College is a really good team,” said Payne. “They’ve answered all my questions and kept me up to date with the car build. I hope we can compete for top ten overall finishes and maybe sneak onto the podium as the season progresses.”

Coleg Menai is the first of the new teams for Anglesey. The team, led by Deputy Programme Area Manager for Engineering Arron Peel, will be campaigning their Peugeot 107 in selected events in 2023. Hywel Rosenthal will be driving the silver-liveried entry which is backed by Star Autocare, Unit 13, Lucas Oil and Teejac amongst others. Hywel is managing director of Star Autocare and Race Day Developments and has previous working on and developing drift cars.

Boston College is the second new entrant to the Challenge when the series visits Wales. The Lincolnshire team will be campaigning its #91 Citroen C1 which will be driven by Liam Browning. The squad, led by Motor Vehicle & Motor Sport Senior Learning Lead Lee Crisp recently received a visit from Student Motorsport founder and Challenge organiser John Paul ‘JP’ Latham. JP was joined by members of Barracksport to support the delivery of training and insights into how to run a successful race team and team members from Boston College took part in the Pit Stop Challenge during the training day to help develop their teamwork skills.

“We have been delivering motorsport courses at Boston College for the past three years and, while simulating race experience is fine, if we’re looking at the next generation of motorsport professionals, we need to be providing them with real life experiences. This not only improves their employability skills but also gives them the chance to use their current skills and knowledge in a real working environment.

“We’re delighted that Liam Browning will be joining the team. It became quite apparent early on from speaking to Liam that he had a good interest in the Student Motorsport Challenge and wanted to use all his skills, knowledge and qualities to support us to build up a competitive team. He knows how these cars handle, he knows what works and what doesn’t work on the set-up and it’s going to be a real asset for us and give us the skills and the information from the driver to make improvements to bring us a really competitive car.

“It would be nice to get a bit of silverware along the line but, for us, it’s all about giving our learners the experience. That’s the number one priority for us.”

For Liam Browning, using his skills and experience to help develop the Boston College entry is his priority.

“Lee Crisp is a top-notch educator and the tutors are really focused,” said Liam Browning. “The students are totally on board to learn and they are the most important part of the team rather than me. I get the easy job! They get the difficult part of trying to learn how to run the car and I will help them progress through that.

“My main competitive goal is to stop Richard Jepp winning everything in class! Richard is a lovely guy and we get on very well and it would be nice to be up there with him, battling for class honours and having great on-track battles. May the best man win!”

Jack Wheeler in the #57 East Surrey College Citroen will be looking to build on the success he enjoyed last time out at Croft where the Burgess Hill-based driver took two podiums, including a second-place finish in race three, to move George Keith’s team to third in the Challenge standings. Wheeler is combining his Student Motorsport Challenge title assault with outings in the MSVT Trackday Championship and the young production engineer is certainly using his track experience to quickly find his feet on the CityCar Cup grid.

After making their debut at Croft, QE Motorsport (Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate) will be back at Anglesey with Arthur Simondet behind the wheel of its #12 Citroen. The team from York gained valuable experience from their first race weekend and will be building on those lessons at Anglesey with Simondet eager for further podium finishes following his second-place finish in race two. QE Motorsport’s entry in the Challenge is unique in that Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate is a school and not a college or university.

Coleg Gwent Newport will have a new driver for the Anglesey rounds with Ben Shaw stepping into the cockpit temporarily to deputise for Team Principal George Jones. Coleg Gwent Newport’s #9 Citroen took two fifth place and one fourth place finish in class last time out at Croft and currently sit seventh in the Student Motorsport Challenge.

Wiltshire College round out the Student Motorsport Challenge grid for Anglesey. Emilia Vincent left Croft brimming with confidence after finishing all three races and the team, already experienced at competing at their home circuit of Castle Combe, will be keen to prove that their success can travel to other circuits.

Student Motorsport Founder and SMo Challenge series organiser John Paul ‘JP’ Latham is delighted at the continued growth of the Challenge.

“It is extremely gratifying to see to continued growth of the Student Motorsport Challenge and to welcome Coleg Menai and Boston College to our paddock when we visit Anglesey,” said JP Latham. “The SMo Challenge was designed to not only provide exciting, competitive racing but real-world motorsport challenges that are impossible to recreate in an educational environment. To see the students and pupils tackle these challenges, learn from them and grow as team members is something that makes all the hard work in bringing this championship to life worthwhile.

“The Anglesey rounds of the Student Motorsport Challenge will be supported by PBS Brakes, the leading race- and track-day brake pad manufacturers who already support several MSA championships.

“Anglesey will mark the anniversary of Barracksport’s debut in the SMo Challenge. Harry O’Donoghue’s team have gone on to become a shining example of how a student-led and managed team can make a real impact in the Student Motorsport Challenge and we wish them well for a successful weekend in Wales.

“Team Northbrook Racing has dominated the season so far and it will be interesting to see if this continues with an influx of experienced drivers and competitors gaining experience with every round.

“We wish all teams and drivers a safe and enjoyable visit to Anglesey for rounds seven, eight and nine.”

Track action for the SMo Challenge at Anglesey gets underway on Saturday June 24th with qualifying at 11:20 followed by Race One at 16:40.