As the Student Motorsport Challenge moves into its second season, seven teams have announced their campaigns for 2023 so far. With more entries and series partners to be announced before the opening round at Snetterton, Student Motorsport and the CityCar Cup Championship are set for an important year for growth.
The Student Motorsport Challenge is designed to provide an affordable and sustainable project for colleges and universities to embed into their motorsport and automotive courses. Students and educators are tasked with building and running their own cars and teams in the Nankang Tyres BRSCC CityCar Cup Championship, the highly competitive series featuring carefully race-specified 1.0L 3-door Toyota Aygo, Peugoet 107 and Citroën C1 cars. With support provided by Student Motorsport and its founder John Paul Latham, the Challenge is the perfect first step for allowing students to gain experience in the motorsport industry within a proper racing championship.
The debut season of the SMo Challenge was highly competitive with the #57 East Surrey College entry driven by Aston Martin Product Specialist Andy Burgess unbeaten in the early rounds and the likely favourite for the title. But it was Richard Jepp, driver of the #65 MET Motorsport Peugeot, who had to rebuild the car after an opening round accident, took the championship in the final race when Burgess’ chances demised after contact just laps from the end.
The SMo Challenge paddock is a lively place on a race weekend as the students prepare their cars to a notably high standard, and the determination to develop and succeed is felt across all teams. Returnees to this year’s Challenge will need to captilise on their experience, while fending off some serious new competition.
Team Northbrook Racing
Formerly MET Motorsport, will be returning to defend their title. Richard Jepp will be back in the driving seat of the team’s Peugeot 107. Jepp has been busy in the off-season and the yellow #65 entry will be sponsored by the Harwin Group, Tesouro Timepieces, Onntoo, Demon Tweeks and Amigo Wraps.
Team Northbrook Racing Team Manager Emma Norton:
“Last year was the most amazing learning journey for all of our students and I have to say staff as well. The Student Motorsport Challenge provided real hands-on industry experience of the kind of quality that would be hard to find in any other format.
“The off-season has been surprisingly brief. I think we were expecting it to be long and drawn out but it’s actually whizzed past and we can’t wait to get back out on track again for test days at the end of March.
“In Richard Jepp, we could not have asked for a better driver but Richard isn’t just a driver; he’s a positive ambassador for the team and the college. He works brilliantly with the staff and the students. We are delighted to have him back in the driving seat for us this year.”
Renamed from 2022’s OBU Student Challenge, the team will return in 2023 with a new driver after Ben Creanor made the step-up to the BRSCC Audi TT Cup in an entry that will also be run by Harry O’Donoghue’s Oxford-based squad. After joining the SMo Challenge at Anglesey, the team worked hard to become a highly-efficient, well-managed crew without the direct influence of a college lecturer or tutor.
Barracksport, named after Barracks Lane in Oxford where discussions about the formation of the team first took place, understand the challenges of running two entries, both in different championships.
Barracksport Team Manager Harry O’Donoghue
“It’s going to be a challenge for sure but we’ve got a good, solid team – we’re all friends, first and foremost – so we’ve got a good solid connection between everyone. There will be a lot of work behind the scenes between race weekends to ensure that when we arrive at the next round, we’re ready.
“The main objectives for us is to represent ourselves and build on the foundations we laid in 2022. I will be happy of everyone finishes the season on October feeling that they’ve done their best – that’s all we could ask for.”
Barracksport is currently in discussions with several drivers and expect to make an announcement in due course.
West Suffolk College
West Suffolk College will return for the 2023 season, led by Head of Automotive Leon Wilde. Leon Wilde made his racing debut in 2022, gaining his ARDS licence just days before the opening round at Oulton Park. The team worked hard throughout the season and Wilde gained confidence with every round, culminating in his first podium in class at the Challenge’s final race at Silverstone.
The team are currently hard at work preparing their Toyota Aygo for the new season. A new driver for the #26 car will be announced shortly.
East Surrey College
East Surrey College will be back on the Student Motorsport Challenge grid for 2023. George Keith’s Redhill-based squad was unbeatable in the early part of the 2022 season and the squad will be looking to re-capture that form with its distinctive black Peugeot 107 when the season gets underway at Snetterton in April. Sponsored by Bossdog Graphics, the team will have a new driver for 2023.
Coleg Gwent Newport
A team that did not get the recognition it deserved in 2022, Coleg Gwent Newport, will be back for the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge. Coleg Gwent Newport Lecturer and Technician George Jones will return to drive following a season that saw the #9 entry finish on the podium on five occasions. The team worked hard at sponsorship in 2022 and retain backing from Hoodhill Motor Company, GSF Parts and Crossfords Oil and Tool Supplies for the new season.
Coleg Menai will enter its Peugeot 107 to support its new Motorsports Level 3 qualification that will run alongside its aeronautical, mechanical and electrical courses. The team has ten learners studying for the motorsports qualification with team planning to join the grid for the Anglesey rounds. After purchasing the donor car and the parts kit, the team is well on its way to race-ready for 2023.
Coleg Menai Deputy Programme Area Manager Engineering Arron Peel:
“The car’s nearly finished. We’ve put all our time and effort into the vehicle and it’s there with just a few minor points to complete.
“So far we’ve mainly looked at the mechanics side of the vehicle. We’re now looking to develop our social media within the department and within the college as well. We need to work closely with our business team to see how we can replicate this in the coming years and build a project from it. The whole idea is to learn and gain a qualification from a project that is inspiring others and motivate and enthuse other learners to be part of something bigger.”
Queen Ethelburga’s College
near York announced in March that it would be the first school to enter a team in the Student Motorsport Challenge. 2022 Challenge entrant Barracksport joined series organiser and Student Motorsport founder JP Latham at the school when the parts kit was presented and provided guidance on their preparation for the season ahead. OBU Student Challenge driver Ben Creanor, the first Challenge driver to take an overall race victory in the BRSCC CityCar Cup Challenge, was on hand to give the new team his insights into how to prepare a competitive race car.
Students and staff will be part of the crew as Queen Ethelburga’s College prepares for its first season in the SMo Challenge. The team is currently looking for interested drivers.
Student Motorsport founder, SMo Challenge organiser and 2022 John Nicol Memorial Trophy winner John Paul ‘JP’ Latham:
“After the excitement of the season finale at Silverstone and the hard work of the off-season in preparing entries for 2023, I can’t wait to see our teams out testing as we approach the opening rounds of this year’s Student Motorsport Challenge.
“Our inaugural season not only provided excellent racing, it also presented the kind of situations that make the Student Motorsport Challenge the perfect series to give aspiring motorsport professionals real-world trackside experience. This level of experience will be invaluable as they begin their careers in the industry.
“We are delighted to welcome Coleg Menai and Queen Ethelburga’s College to our paddock this season. I wish them enjoyable and productive seasons that they will look back on with pride and satisfaction.
“To all our 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge entrants, it is great to see you back on the grid and if this season is half as challenging and exciting as 2022, then we’re in for a cracking year!”
With a month to go before the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge gets underway at Snetterton, there will be additional entrants and partnerships announced before the lights go out for the first race of the season.