Team Northbrook Racing Expansion – Ari Barker Joins Richard Jepp at TNR

Ari Barker - Llandow Win 2023

Team Northbrook Racing will move up to a two-car entry for the 2024 Student Motorsport Challenge, the inter-series within the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship, with the announcement that Ari Barker will join Richard Jepp at the double title-winning squad.

Team Northbrook Racing, crewed by students from Northbrook College and led by Emma Norton – Course Leader HE Motorsport, have won the Student Motorsport Challenge title in both 2022 and 2023. After securing the title in the last race of the year in 2022, Richard Jepp dominated the class in the first half of the 2023 season and took 11 Challenge victories and a further seven podiums to clinch the series by 50 points from East Surrey College.

Team Northbrook Racing - 2023 Challenge Title Winners (Photo: Sam Martin)
Team Northbrook Racing - 2023 Challenge Title Winners (Photo: Sam Martin)

For 2024, Jepp is joined by Ari Barker who is graduating to circuit racing after eight seasons of competing in karts. 26-year-old Barker, who is the Advanced Manufacturing Team Leader at Harwin PLC, a manufacturer of precision electrical connectors with a UK base in Portsmouth, Hampshire, will make his Challenge debut at the opening round at Snetterton.

Ari Barker - Clay Pigeon 2023

Ari Barker inherited his passion for motorsport from his father who is a keen competitor in Comp Safari Off-Road with the Southern Counties Club. Indeed, he was named after 1981 World Rally Championship Ari Vatanen. Ari began competing in karts from the age of 18 and moved up to National Kart Cup competition in the Senior Rotax class in 2021.The last three seasons have seen Barker secure two top ten championship finishes along with an overall victory at Llandow in 2022.

Ari had been seeking a path to graduate to circuit racing and it was work colleague, and now teammate, Richard Jepp who introduced him to the Student Motorsport Challenge and Team Northbrook Racing.

Ari Barker - Llandow Win 2023

“The opportunity to get involved with Team Northbrook Racing seemed like a fantastic opportunity to enable me to make the step up and also assist the college with what they’re aiming to do,” said Ari Barker. “I’d been in contact with SMo Challenge organiser John Paul ‘JP’ Latham and TNR Team Principal Emma Norton for over a year and I was blown away with their operations. With the team’s expansion, it seemed like the perfect time for me to get involved.”

With plans now finalised to have two TNR cars on the grid for the opening round of the 2024 Student Motorsport Challenge at Snetterton in April, Barker is excited at the prospect of his first taste of circuit racing.

“I’m very much looking forward to working with the team for the season going forward,” said Ari Barker. “This season is a big learning year for me. However, I’m in the best position to do so and I look forward to tapping into the wealth of knowledge and experience from both TNR and Richard. I look forward to working closely with Richard and hopefully helping him towards that elusive overall race victory in a year that I expect will see a full drivers championship assault for him and the team as well as competing for their third Student Motorsport Challenge title.

Emma Norton - Readying Driver Richard Jepp - Croft 2023
TNR Launch February 2023

“I look forward to getting involved and boosting my own knowledge and experience within the sport and if I can assist students in their education and gaining experience track-side then even better.”

Ari Barker will be sponsored for the forthcoming season by Harwin PLC and Rainford Precision, suppliers of high precision tooling.

“I’m really excited to bring back my sponsors Harwin and Rainford Precision to join me this year. I want to thank them for continuing their support for me as I take my next step in motorsport.”

For teammate Richard Jepp, entering his third year in the Student Motorsport Challenge and BRSCC CityCar Cup Championship, 2024 will bring extra competition both within the team and across the expanding Challenge grid.

“The 2024 season is set to be the biggest yet for Student Motorsport which is growing consistently year-on-year,” said Richard Jepp. “With new teams entering, plus some teams now running two cars, it’s going to be yet another amazing year for the Challenge.

“For ourselves at Team Northbrook Racing, we are one of the teams that will have a two-car entry. This will bring its own challenges but also create an amazing team dynamic and opportunities to drive forwards. Ari Barker, my 2024 teammate, is a great driver and has proved that with his karting career to date. The step up to cars won’t be an issue for Ari at all and I’m expecting him to be pushing on. 

“We will be working together as a team but I can assure you there won’t be anything left out there by either of us when it comes to winning races.”

Ari Barker Racing at 3 Sisters 2023

Team Principal Emma Norton understands the challenges of moving up to a two-car entry and is looking forward to the 2024 SMo Challenge.

“I am very excited about the new season and the extra challenge of a second car,” said Emma Norton. “I am sure that having two vehicles will enable even more students to gain valuable motorsport experience in a real racing environment.

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

“Our new second driver Ari Barker has significant karting experience and will be a fantastic addition to the team. It will be interesting to see how the two drivers work together and we hope that a little friendly rivalry will spur them both on to another successful season.”

The 2024 Student Motorsport Challenge gets underway at Snetterton on April 6th and 7th.