“You need to trust the process and have faith in what you can deliver.” – TNR’s Richard Jepp discusses the search for sponsorship

Richard Jepp - Silverstone Final 2023

Any form of sport involving specialist equipment is usually expensive and none more so than motorsport. Unless you are fortunate to have deep pockets or family backing, getting to the grid in a competitive car requires finding financial backing in the form of sponsors.

In the first of a series of features looking at the different aspects of running a race team, Student Motorsport spoke to Team Northbrook Racing driver Richard Jepp about the sponsors he has in place for the 2024 season, how he delivers value to those sponsors and his ongoing search for backing to support his long-term racing ambitions. 

Driving the #65 Team Northbrook Racing Peugeot 107 to the Student Motorsport Challenge titles in both 2023 and 2024 has meant that Richard has had to work hard to understand how to acquire sponsors and then work with those sponsors to deliver meaningful value throughout the season.

Jepp Season Start 2023

Richard, thank you for sharing your thoughts on sponsorship as we approach the start of the new season. Who do you have as sponsors for 2024?

“This season I have Harwin plc which is the company I work for. They’ve been on board for the past two seasons, sponsoring myself and the team collectively so the investment is spread between myself and the team so it supports the team as well.

“We’ve also got backing from Star Micronics GB who manufacture sliding-headstock lathes and FMB automatic bar feeders. I’ve worked with them through my work as an engineer and have built up a relationship with them. They’ve always been interested in motorsport and especially the educational aspect of what I’m doing to develop tomorrow’s engineers and motorsport technicians.

“Additionally, and continuing from 2023, we have backing from CNC mill and EDM machine manufacturer Georg Fischer. I work very closely with GF through my work as an engineer and they’re back on board for much the same reason as Star Micronics GB – they really want to support tomorrow’s engineers. George Fischer sponsors Alpine and they also supply machines to a number of Formula 1 teams. They’re heavily involved in motorsport and like the link with the educational side of things.”

Engineering is clearly a central theme for your partners. Are there other engineers that you will be working with?

“Yes, we will be working with Rainford Precision which is a cutting tool specialist for mills and sliding head machines and their backing is a result of another link I made through my work. They’ve come on board to support myself and the team. 

You worked with automotive luggage and motorsport bag company Rocked-!T in 2023. Will they be back with you for the new season?

“Yes, Rocked-!T is returning as a product sponsor. They’re a family-run business that is doing really well and are now selling their products via Demon Tweeks on-line. I’m personally using their products and understanding what their business goals are to see where I can help. I’ll have some merchandise available through them for the start of the season.”

From your perspective, what is the key to a successful sponsor partnership?

“The objective of any sponsorship is that you want the sponsor to invest money in what you’re doing and help you towards your racing objectives. However nobody gives you money for nothing so you need to find the selling point of what you can do for them. I’m very lucky to be part of a college team and to be able to use the educational side as a promotional tool and a bonus for the any company that’s on board.

Team Northbrook Racing at Silverstone Final 2023
Team Northbrook Racing at Silverstone Final 2023

“I also consider what their social media objectives are. A sponsor can post pictures of their machines all day long but they’re going to get the same eyes looking at the same things. To have something completely different and away from their normal product such as race cars and student teams building them allows the sponsor to bring in a different demographic and draw different eyes in.

“The key to my sponsorship arrangements is what can I give back for the investment they’re willing to give me.”

Richard Jepp - Croft 2023

Can you offer some examples of how you work with sponsors?

“With social media being so powerful nowadays, I can provide photos, videos and write-ups that they can use on their social media and websites to give a different look and that can be a big advantage for companies. I also offer event tickets so they can invite staff or suppliers and use the race weekend as a networking opportunity.

“Of course, branding on the car is important and I publish posts every race weekend pin-pointing their logo.

Jepp on Grid at Silverstone Final 2023

“Sponsorship promotions have to be managed carefully and there’s a lot you have to prepare before you can make good progress with effective sponsorship.”

So your planning has to be detailed.

 “Yes, very much so. I’m already planning for 2025 because if I don’t have the backing, I can’t race next year. You need to be thinking long-term and you need to have a roadmap of where you need to be and when to target prospects.”

What advice would you give to a driver who is just starting out on the journey you’ve undergone over the last three years?

“My advice would be to keep with it. Work on what you know you’re good at because no one can do everything as well as you can. There’s always something you can do better than someone else so pinpoint that and be confident with it. 

“Don’t be afraid of approaching people and don’t be afraid of being turned down. I could send 200 emails and attend 200 meetings and if just 2% of that activity is successful, it enables to do what I need to do. Keep your name active and always be polite, professional and positive. You need to be positive in every single step!”

Jepp Champions Announcement 2023

The 2024 Student Motorsport Challenge, part of the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship, gets underway at Snetterton on Saturday April the 6th. Team Northbrook Racing, under the leadership of Emma Norton, has a two-car entry for the new season with Ari Barker joining Richard Jepp in the driver line-up.