The Student Motorsport Challenge, the inter-series within the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship, reaches its final two rounds of the 2023 season when the UK’s only track-based racing series for schools, colleges and universities visits Silverstone on October the 7th and 8th.
12 months ago, the Silverstone International circuit was the setting for high drama when East Surrey College’s Andy Burgess unfortunately failed to finish the final race after contact coming out of Club Corner, allowing Richard Jepp and MET Motorsport, re-named as Team Northbrook Racing for 2023, to take the inaugural Challenge title.
This year Team Northbrook Racing holds a commanding lead at the head of the Challenge standings and it is unlikely that, barring disasters, they will fail to retain the title.
iManage Performance Ltd will be sponsoring the final weekend at Silverstone. Founded by Bob Bannister over 22 years ago, iManage Performance Ltd is a pioneering blended training provider, specialising in bespoke programmes that are shaped around client objectives and culture. The company, based in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, has developed over 250 original courses that have been used in leading organisations around the world. iManage Performance Ltd offers a unique selling proposition in that if their training and input does not effect the desired change in people, you do not have to pay. No client has ever taken them up on this offer.
iManage Performance Ltd will be providing a prize of a training session at the McLaren Technology Centre for four members from each team finishing in the top three in the Challenge standings.
In addition to an exciting day’s racing and the crowning of the 2023 Challenge title winner, the weekend will also see two additional activities, both held on Saturday October the 7th.
In the morning starting at 10.00am, the Student Motorsport Challenge Seminar takes place in the Silverstone Wing auditorium. The seminar will see speakers from a wide variety of disciplines such as social media and PR, personal performance development, driver and team development and series organisation present to the teams in an event designed to add additional value and learning opportunities to the Challenge experience. Student Motorsport expresses its sincere gratitude to the BRSCC and Silverstone’s Club Meeting Event Manager Charles Gattan for their support in making this event possible.
In the afternoon of Saturday October the 7th, Challenge teams will compete against the clock in the Nankang Tyre Pit Stop Challenge. The contest sees each team take part in a simulated racing pit stop where they will have a task list to complete before ‘releasing’ their car back onto the circuit. Sponsors Nankang Tyre will be awarding a prize of a set of their tyres and branded headwear to the winning team. Second place finishers will receive a Raceparts pitstop lollipop while the third-placed team will receive brake fluid courtesy of PBS Brakes, a previous weekend sponsor.
The Nankang Tyre Pit Stop Challenge will be lives-streamed by The Pebble Agency with the support from the Paddock Speedshop and EnduranceandGT.co.uk.
Nine teams will be on the Student Motorsport Challenge grid for the final rounds of the 2023 season.
Team Northbrook Racing currently head the Challenge standings on 276 points allowing for dropped scores. The team’s distinctive orange #65 Citroen CI has been driven to nine class wins by Richard Jepp in 2023 with eight of those victories being at the start of the season. Barring disqualification, Team Northbrook Racing cannot be caught and should leave Silverstone as 2023 title winners.
Jepp has proved to be a highly competitive driver this season and has regularly been fighting for overall podiums. The #65 driver is currently sitting third in the overall standings, joining East Surrey College’s Jack Wheeler as the two Challenge representatives in the top ten on the overall table.
Second in the standings on 232 points is East Surrey College where driver Jack Wheeler has taken the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship by storm after getting to grips with the team’s #57 Citroen C1 over the course of the opening rounds. Wheeler took his first podium finish in class in Round 5 at Croft and his first Challenge victory just four races later at Anglesey. Since then, Wheeler has gone on to stand on the top step of the podium in class on further occasions.
After the disappointment of 2022, finishing second in the Challenge standings may be a bitter pill for George Keith’s squad but East Surrey College has delivered a consistently competitive racecar throughout the season and will be looking for a solid finish to the season on the Silverstone International circuit.
West Suffolk College’s Haydn Payne has been one of the revelations of the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge. Son of CityCar Cup driver Andrew Payne, Haydn Payne joined the Student Motorsport Challenge from the Anglesey rounds, taking over the seat from Leon Wilde. Payne was a steady driver who broke through into the podium places at Brands Hatch with a 2nd and 3rd place finish. The ill-luck of Barracksport allowed Alan Barrett’s squad to move into third in the standings, a position that the team will be looking to consolidate at the home of British motorsport.
Harry O’Donoghue’s Barracksport makes a very welcome return for Silverstone. The Oxford-based squad, named after the road where they decided to form a race team, sustained significant damage at Brands Hatch, forcing Andy Dyer to sit out the final race at the iconic Kent circuit and the following three rounds at Donington. Barracksport returns using a substitute car for its #11 entry and Andy Dyer will no doubt be looking to compete for Challenge podium finishes at the season’s final weekend.
QE Motorsports (Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate) is the only team on the Challenge grid with team members of school age. Arthur Simondet, Texas-raised but now based in London, has driven the team’s distinctive blue-and-yellow #12 Citroen to two Challenge podium finishes on his way to 5th in the standings. The team endured some bad luck at Brands Hatch and will be looking to finish on a high for the season finale.
Wiltshire College & University Centre’s Emilia Vincent brought a lump to everybody’s throat at Brands Hatch with her look of sheer elation at taking her first Student Motorsport Challenge podium finish. There was frustration for the Castle Combe-based squad last time out at Donington when unavoidable contact early in the first race meant that the #174 car Toyota suffered its first DNF of the year. Teams in the Challenge paddock rallied around to get the car out for race two to allow David Campion’s team to score valuable Challenge points
The Challenge is looking forward to Emilia’s and the team’s return after a significant amount of damage needed repair after the contact at Donington. The team has worked flat out to prepare the car for Silverstone and the students and staff of Wiltshire College and University deserve special recognition for their combined efforts to get the #174 car on the grid this weekend.
Boston College Racing has been one of the stand-out stars of the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge season. Lee Crisp’s team has shown the determination, resilience and professionalism that is rarely seen outside of professional motorsport and their efforts were well rewarded when CityCar Cup veteran Liam Crisp brought the #91 Citroen home for two Challenge wins last time out at Donington.
The team will be looking to carry Donington’s momentum through into the season finale and we could well see Browning at the front of the overall CityCar grid at Silverstone.
An accident at Anglesey involving James Smith, driver of the #49 Barracksport Grey Sheep Racing Citroen, meant that the Oxford-based team’s second entry required a new donor car. Thankfully Smith was unhurt in the incident, a donor shell was sourced and the car was rebuilt in time for the team to get out for the penultimate race weekend at Donington.
James Smith has been growing in experience and confidence so could Silverstone see a breakthrough for Barracksport GSR and a podium finish in class for the CityCar Cup novice? We shall see.
It is great to see Coleg Gwent Newport rejoin the Challenge for the final two rounds. Ben Shaw’s squad were last out on track at Anglesey where Shaw brought the #9 Citroen home for a pair of 9th-place finishes in class. Hopefully, the team’s return for Silverstone bodes well for a full season of racing in 2024 for the Welsh squad.
Sadly, Menai Motorsport is unable to join the Student Motorsport Challenge for the final weekend. Logistical issues have meant that the college has had to withdraw their entry for Silverstone but the Challenge very much looks forward to hopefully seeing them return for 2024.
Student Motorsport founder and Challenge organiser John Paul ‘JP’ Latham: “I am delighted we have nine cars on the grid for the final weekend of the year at Silverstone. Although Team Northbrook Racing look like they have retained their title, there is still plenty to compete for over the rest of the standings table and I am sure we will have another thrilling weekend to finish the season.
“I want to thank iManage Performance Ltd for their sponsorship of our Silverstone weekend, for their generous prize of the training session at McLaren and, of course, for supporting our seminar on Saturday. The season finale will include much more than just racing. We have the Student Motorsport Challenge Seminar taking place in the Silverstone Wing auditorium on Saturday morning and the Nankang Tyre Pit Stop Challenge in the afternoon which will provide some valuable learning experiences for our students and pupils.
“I also want to thank all our weekend sponsors who have supported the Challenge in 2023. PBS Brakes, Visual PR, Acorn Printing Services, The Motorsport School, Rocked-iT, 3D 360 and Raceparts have all added hugely to the learner’s experiences. Huge thanks as well to the BRSCC who could not have been more supportive and helpful throughout our second season.
“Finally I want to thank our infrastructure partners The Pebble Agency, Garage23, Nankang Tyre and EnduranceandGT who have all added hugely to the 2023 Challenge experience.
“I would just like to wish all our teams and drivers the very best of luck at Silverstone and I hope we all enjoy a fantastic weekend of racing and gain valuable experience that can only help our students in their pursuit of a career in professional motorsport.”
Track action for the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship gets underway on Sunday October the 8th with a 15-minute qualifying session at 9.00am followed by the first of two 15-minute contests around the 1.85 miles of the International circuit at 2.15pm.