Team Northbrook Racing increases lead in Challenge standings as West Suffolk College move into second at Donington

TNR - Weekend Winners (Photo: Katie Wells)

In soaring temperatures on Donington’s GP circuit, Team Northbrook Racing increased their lead at the top of the standings after Richard Jepp took class wins in the Student Motorsport Challenge Powered by Car Chase Heroes, part of the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship.

Brady Pollock, behind the wheel of the #12 West Suffolk College ME Toyota Aygo, continued his strong run of form with two second place finishes in class which, along with Pollock’s fastest lap in Race One, moves the #12 WSC car into second place in the SMo Challenge standings head of Joshua Jackson in the 27 QE Motorsport entry. WSC now has a slender three-point advantage, after dropped scores, over QE Motorsport.

Brady Pollock - West Suffolk College Motorsport Engineering - Donington Park (Photo: Andrew Wall)

With many of the Student Motorsport Challenge Powered by Car Chase Heroes grid testing on Friday, Saturday became a day for preparation and media work, ahead of competitive on-track action on Sunday June the 23rd.

Student Motorsport Head of Media Andy Lloyd interviews Car Chase Heroes Ambassador Andrew Payne at Donington Park - June 2024

Qualifying got underway in near-perfect conditions with Joshua Jackson putting the #27 QE Motorsport Citroen C1 on class pole with a 2:08.634 to go third quickest on the overall grid. West Suffolk College’s Brady Pollock qualified second in the Challenge class with a 2:08.817 while standings leader and double Challenge champion Richard Jepp in the #65 Team Northbrook Racing Peugeot was third quickest with a 2:09.218.

Joshua Jackson was pleased with his qualifying performance and felt there was still more pace in the #27 car.

“The car felt like it was under me,” said Jackson. “I went off at the beginning at Redgate but apart from that it was a really solid session. I think there is more in the car for the two races as I struggled to get a good lap in due to traffic but hopefully in the races I can go quicker.”

Joshua Jackson - Donington Park Qualifying - 21.06.24 (Photo: Rebecca Howland)

The Student Motorsport Challenge Powered by Car Chase Heroes was delighted to welcome back Ari Barker in the #87 Team Northbrook Racing Peugeot. Barker had an accident during testing for the Oulton Park rounds and the #87 car required a rebuild ahead of rounds six and seven. 

“My personal recovery has been absolutely fine,” said Barker. “The cars are built superbly. I’m amazed to say that after the accident I felt no aches or pains so the car, roll-cage and safety equipment did its job.

“The accident caused the team a lot of work so huge credit to them for getting us on to the grid this weekend. After I had sourced the car, the build was completed in three weeks even though it was exam season so huge thanks to everyone at Team Northbrook Racing.”

TNR - Ari Barker - Donington Park (Photo: Katie Wells)

Lining up 4th on the Challenge grid was QE Motorsport’s Haydn Payne followed by Jack Wheeler in the #57 East Surrey College Citroen and Rory Pickles in the #52 QE Motorsport entry. Liam Browning, taking over the driving duties at Donington for Nick Abbott in the #92 Boston College Racing Citroen was 7th on the Challenge grid with City College Norwich’s Eliott Lettis, Barracksport’s James Reilly and Sussex Motorsports’ Colin Dunn behind. Andrew Payne in the #73 West Suffolk College Peugeot qualified 11th quickest in class with the Challenge grid completed by Barracksport GSR’s James Smith, TNR’s Ari Barker and CCN’s Glenn Bee.

Liam Browning - Returned to BCR for Donington Park (Photo: Andrew Wall)

Race One saw a highly competitive contest with TNR’s Richard Jepp getting off to a flying start and taking the class lead after pole-sitter Joshua Jackson fell down the order with an engine power issue. The class battle was intense and after two laps WSC’s Brady Pollock held the class lead before being passed by Jepp who moved into third place overall.

With seven minutes remaining. Challenge cars occupied all but three of the top ten overall positions. ESC’s Jack Wheeler made a brief visit to the pitlane to allow the team’s mechanics to check the car before returning to the circuit.

As the race approached the chequered flag, Jepp held off a charging Pollock as Elliot Lettis moved into 7th place overall and 3rd in the Challenge, passing multiple cars on his final.

“I had a rocket start,” said Jepp. “I started in 6th and by the end of Turn 1 I was in 3rd and right on the back of the front two. Everyone was battling right through the first lap and I got muscled through the hairpin and the front two got away. I dropped back down to 6th and slowly picked my way back through. It was great racing!”

TNR's Richard Jepp - Celebrating at Donington Park -Race 1 (Photo: Andrew Wall)

Mechanical issues held back CCN’s Elliot Lettis during qualifying but once fixed, the 2023 CityCar Cup champion carved his way through the field to take his second class podium finish of the season.

“We had a bearing which was wobbling and it didn’t give me much confidence in qualifying so we got it changed before the race and it was a completely different car,” said Lettis. “I had more confidence and I could turn in without any oversteer.

“I picked up two or three places on the last lap alone. There was a bit of carnage behind me but I took advantage of it and I got P3 as a result.”

CCN's #3 Elliot Lettis - Donington Park - Race 1 (Photo: Katie Wells)

Race Two was shortened to ten minutes after the red flag was brought out following an incident. Thankfully no drivers were injured but a green flag lap before the restart meant that the field had time for just three tours. Richard Jepp brought the #65 TNR car home for his second victory of the day followed by Brady Pollock in the #12 WSC Toyota.

TNR's Richard Jepp - Race 2 in the #65 Peugeot 107 - Donington Park - June 2024 (Photo: Rebecca Howland)
WSC ME Brady Pollock - Race 2 in the #12 Toyota Aygo - Donington Park - June 2024 (Photo: Rebecca Howland)

Completing the podium places was Haydn Payne who brought the #72 QE Motorsport Citroen home for his first Challenge podium since Brands Hatch in 2023 and 5th place overall.

QE Motorsport's Haydn Payne - Donington Park - Race 2 - June 2024

CCN’s Elliot Lettis was 4th in class followed by Sussex Motorsports’ Colin Dunn and WSC’s Andrew Payne. Barracksport GSR’s James Smith, QE’s Joshua Jackson and CCN’s Glenn Bee completed the Challenge finishers.

After seven rounds of the 2024 Student Motorsport Challenge, TNR’s Richard Jepp heads the class standings with a 13-point advantage over WSC’s Brady Pollock who is on 70 points after dropped scores. QE’s Joshua Jackson is third on 67 points followed by ESC’ Jack Wheeler, CCN’s Elliot Lettis and QE’s Haydn Payne. James Reilly, driving the #11 Barracksport entry lies 7th with Boston College Racing’s Rory Pickles and Barracksport GSR’s James Smith following. WSC’s Andrew Payne, TNR’s Ari Barker, Sussex Motorsports’ Colin Dunn, the #34 BCR entry driven at Donington by Liam Browning and CCN’s Glenn Bee completing the 2024 Student Motorsport Challenge standings.

TNR - Richard Jepp enjoying the podium with his team - Donington Park - June 2024 (Photo: Katie Wells)

Series organiser John Paul ‘JP’ Latham acknowledged that Donington had been a demanding test for the Challenge grid.

“Given the compact nature of the programme on Sunday combined with heat, rounds six and seven of the Challenge at Donington have certainly lived up to the series name.,” he said.

“Firstly, though, I must thank our sponsors for the weekend, Car Chase Heroes, and their generosity in providing a prize of a Supercar Driving Experience. We will be reviewing the data shortly to determine who the worthiest winner of that fantastic prize will be. I also want to thank P1 Graphics for their continued support of the Challenge.

Challenge Series Organiser - Handing out the spoils at a sun-soaked Donington Park - Race 2 - June 2024 (Photo: Andrew Wall)

“Donington was a demanding weekend for everyone and I was delighted to see how the teams rose to the challenge. Repairs and mechanical issues meant that many teams were working flat out between sessions to get their cars prepared but this is real-world motorsport and the students and learners all gained valuable experience which will help them as they pursue their chosen careers.

“Many congratulations to Team Northbrook Racing and Richard Jepp for extending their lead in the standings. Congratulations as well to West Suffolk College and Brady Pollock who continues to shine in what is his debut season in cars. 

“It was great to see Haydn Payne back on the podium after switching teams for the new season. Haydn is an incredibly determined and driven young man and I am sure he will continue to fight for podium finishes as the season progresses.

“After the significant amount of work that Team Northbrook had to accomplish to get Ari Barker back on track, it was fantastic to see the #87 car return for Donington. Congratulations to Emma Norton and all her team members for turning that task around so quickly.

“Can anybody challenge Richard Jepp and TNR for the title this season? There are certainly teams that think they can and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the year unfolds!”

The Student Motorsport Challenge returns to Snetterton on July the 20th and 21st for another double-header, this time over two days.