Jepp takes first overall win as TNR extends SMo Challenge Lead

TNR's Richard Jepp taking another win in race 2 - Oulton Park - May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Team Northbrook Racing, led by Emma Norton and crewed by students from Northbrook College in Worthing, took its first overall win in the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship at Oulton Park. Richard Jepp, driving the team’s Harwin-backed #65 Peugeot 107, took two Student Motorsport Challenge Powered by Rocked-!T Motorsport Luggage class victories in Rounds Four and Five of the 2024 series.

ROCKED-!T Oulton Park Partners - May 2024

Team Northbrook Racing’s two Challenge victories means that the team now has a provisional lead, after dropped scores, of four points, ahead of the #27 QE Motorsports’ Citroen C1 driven by Joshua Jackson and is seven points ahead of the #12 West Suffolk College entry piloted by Brady Pollock.

The weekend opened with testing on Friday May the 24th which saw some unfortunate incidents for the Challenge grid. Nick Abbott in the #34 Boston College Racing Toyota suffered a braking issue which resulted in contact with the barriers and Lee Crisp’s team worked quickly to get the car prepared for Saturday’s qualifying. An engine problem in the Barracksport #11 Citroen meant that the Oxford-based team had to change the engine in James Reilly’s car. The team quickly sourced a fresh engine and worked late into the night to get the #11 ready for Saturday’s early morning test session.

BCR's #34 repaired and ready for Saturday's races - Oulton Park May 2024 (Photo: Student Motorsport)
Barracksport's #11 undergoing engine repairs for Saturday's races - Oulton Park May 2024 (Photo: Student Motorsport)

The most disappointing news was the announcement that the #87 Team Northbrook Racing Peugeot was being withdrawn from the meeting due to damage sustained in an accident on Friday. Driver Ari Barker was thankfully unhurt but the #87 car could take no further part in the weekend.

Ari Barker - Snetterton at the wheel of the #87 TNR Peugeot 107 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Saturday’s qualifying got underway in almost perfect conditions and Richard Jepp, at the wheel of the #65 TNR Peugeot, wasted no time in laying down a marker for the weekend by taking both the overall and class pole position. Jepp lapped the 2.69 miles of the Oulton Park International circuit in 2:15.757 on his sixth and final lap to finish the 15-minute session over a second quicker than Brady Pollock in the #12 WSC Toyota.

Completing the top three in the Student Motorsport Challenge class was defending CityCar Cup champion Elliot Lettis, making his Challenge debut in the #3 City College Norwich Peugeot. Lettis lapped in 2:17.331 to finish sixth quickest overall.

Elliot Lettis - City College Norwich - Qualifying Oulton Park (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

The 15-minute qualifying session was red flagged shortly after it began and when green flag running resumed , it was Jepp in the #65 Peugeot who went to the top of the timing screen with 2:17.446 followed by Boston College Racing’s Rory Pickles with a 2:19.432. Jepp was the first driver to lap in under 2:16 with a 2:15.969 on his fifth lap which he improved on his final tour.

West Suffolk College’s Brady Pollock put in a flying final lap to qualify second in class with a 2:17.032 while CCN;s Elliot Lettis was third quickest in the Challenge class with a 2:17.331.

“The session was a challenge,” said Richard Jepp. “There is a new format to qualifying this year and it’s a bit of a free-for-all for the line up rather than in Championship order as it was previously so I had to find some space. I found space and the car felt really good. The team have done a great job and we spent a lot of time working on the car yesterday during practice. 

“It’s difficult to pass on this circuit. It’s very narrow and incidents can happen the further back you are so I’m glad to be on the front row. It’s my first ever overall pole so hopefully I can drive off into the distance.”

TNR's Richard Jepp - Qualifying in the #65 Peugeot 107 - Oulton Park - May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

When the lights went out for the start of Race One, Richard Jepp led the field away from pole position and, after two laps, was over two seconds clear of the #23 Citroen driven by Joe Moss. Brady Pollock was second in class but, after a blistering start, was passed by Elliot Lettis.

After three laps, Brady Pollock was still on the tail of Elliot Lettis and was less than half a second back from the 2023 CityCar Cup Champion.

As the race entered the final four minutes, the gap at the front came down to under two seconds as Jepp, hearing a noise from the #65 car that he thought may be a failing wheel bearing, caused the South coast-based driver to ease off to ensure a finish. Meanwhile, Pollock found his way past Lettis to retake second in class. As the 15-minute contest drew to a close, Challenge entries held on to 5th down to 8th overall.

Jepp’s advantage continued to narrow as he nursed the #65 car to the chequered flag but the TNR pilot had the race under control and crossed the line to take his first overall victory and his third win in class of the 2024 season.

TNR's Richard Jepp - Takes the win in Race 1 - Oulton Park - May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Finishing second in class, WSC’s Brady Pollock had been confident he could get a good result after a solid qualifying effort.

“I’m very happy because it was a hard-fought P2,” said Pollock. “I was battling with Lettis but we deserved it. We’ve shown our pace today and in practice and I made the right moves in the Race. The car worked so well in the first race that I can’t wait for the second race later this afternoon.”

Brady Pollock - Race 1 Interview - Oulton Park May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

QE Motorsport’s Haydn Payne finished 4th in class, followed by ESC’s Jack Wheeler and BCR’s Rory Pickles.

QE Motorsports’ Joshua Jackson finished 7th in class with Barracksport GSR’s Matty Prance in 8th and Sussex Motorsports’ Colin Dunn in 9th. WSC’s Andrew Payne, BCR’s Nick Abbott and CCN’s Glenn Bee completed the Challenge finishers.

QE Motorsports' Haydn Payne - Takes a class 4th in Race 1 - Oulton Park - May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

In Race Two, Jepp, at the wheel of the #65 TNR Peugeot, started from pole position and led the 37-car field away from the grid but was passed by Joe Moss in the #23 Citroen C1 and Alistair May in the #92 Citroen at the end of the opening lap.

TNR's Richard Jepp Chasing P1 - Oulton Park - Race 2 May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Jepp was tucked into third as the field completed their first lap but had regained second place as the field crossed the start-finish line for the second time. West Suffolk College’s Brady Pollock moved into third place overall.

Brady Pollock (blue) - Pushing higher up the order in Race 2 - Oulton Park May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

With six minutes remaining, Jepp had set the fastest lap of the race with a 2:16.115 and was less than half a second behind Alistair May in the #92 car but was struggling to close in further.

Jepp managed to narrow the gap to less than three-tenths of a second but the TNR driver could not find a way past the #92 Citroen and crossed the line to take his second Challenge victory of the day and a second-place overall finish.

TNR's Richard Jepp pushing - Oulton Park - Race 2 May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

West Suffolk College’s Brady Pollock finished on the Challenge podium for the second time on Saturday followed by Jack Wheeler in the #57 East Surrey College Citroen.

QE Motorsports’ Haydn Payne finished 4th in class followed by CCN’s Elliot Lettis, Boston College Racing’s Rory Pickles, and QE Motorsports’ Joshua Jackson. Matty Prance, at the wheel of the #49 Barracksport GSR Citroen, finished 8th in class with teammate James Reilly in 9th. Colin Dunn, Andrew Payne, Nick Abbott and Glenn Bee completed the Student Motorsport Challenge finishers.

Andrew Payne - leading the class mid-pack at Oulton Park - Race 2 - Oulton Park - May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

As if to demonstrate the strength in depth of the world’s leading motorsport series offering real-life trackside experience to the next generation of motorsport professionals, Student Motorsport Challenge entries filled more than half of the top 11 overall finishers.

SMo Challenge Finishing High

Team Northbrook Racing Team Principal Emma Norton was delighted to see the team, which endured a dramatic weekend when it made its debut in the Challenge at Oulton Park in 2022, take its first overall CityCar Cup win in Cheshire.

“I am just so pleased for Richard and the team,” said Emma Norton. “It’s incredible. It’s been quite a journey for us since we entered the Challenge but it feels like redemption for Richard and his brilliant driving. We’ve come a long way. The team’s amazing, Richard’s amazing and we move forward.

Emma praised the evolution of the team since its first early steps in the Challenge.

Emma Norton - Team Principal at Team Northbrook Racing (Middle) Enjoying a strong start to 2024

“We’ve got more students, we’re more organised and I think we enjoy it more. We feel much more comfortable in the way we do things and the students are enjoying it. It’s such an experience for them and it’s the best thing that could have happened for so many young people.”

Richard Jepp also won the Fastest Race Lap award sponsored by P1 Graphics with his 2:16.115 during Race Two.

“I am delighted at the continued support for the Student Motorsport Challenge and the growth it continues to enjoy,” said JP Latham.

“Firstly, though, I must say a huge thank you to the BRSCC and their fantastic organisation of another brilliant race weekend for our Challenge competitors. I also want to thank Rocked-!T Motorsport Luggage for their support for the weekend. We will be announcing details of the competition for Challenge teams to win Rocked-!T products and merchandise in due course.

Rocked-!T Bag Promo Image - Croft July 2023

“I must also thank Tom Pledger and P1 Graphics for their fantastic Fastest Race Lap Trophy and their continued graphics support of the Challenge.

P1 Graphics Fastest Lap Award (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

“It was fantastic to see 13 cars out on track for Rounds Four and Five and we were delighted to welcome both Sussex Motorsports and Elliot Lettis to the series. TNR was very unfortunate with the incident for the #87 car in testing and we were relieved that Ari Barker escaped unscathed. We look forward to seeing them back with us at Donington. 

“Yet again, the Student Motorsport Challenge provided real-world trackside experiences that cannot be replicated in the classroom with teams changing engines, repairing accident damage and having to react to changing conditions throughout the weekend. I am confident that the Challenge has now established itself as the premier student-focused racing series both in the UK and internationally.

“Huge congratulations to Richard Jepp and Team Northbrook Racing for their first overall victory, the first for the Challenge since Barracksport took an overall CityCar Cup win at Cadwell Park in 2022.

“After an exciting weekend at Oulton Park, we can’t wait to go racing again at Donington in one months’ time.”

Donington Park plays host for rounds six and seven of the 2024 Student Motorsport Challenge, part of the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship, on June the 22nd and 23rd.