Team Northbrook Racing took two victories in the Student Motorsport Challenge, part of the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship, at the season finale weekend at Silverstone to provisionally secure their second SMC title in as many years. The Sussex-based team had entered the BRSCC Finals Race Weekend with an unbeatable lead and, barring disqualification, had the title wrapped up at Donington in September.
Harwin-backed driver Richard Jepp brought the #65 Team Northbrook Racing Peugeot 107 home for not only a pair of wins in class on the Silverstone International circuit but also two overall second place finishes. TNR’s overall finishing results provisionally cements Emma Norton’s squad in third place in the overall BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship title results.
Race one saw the #65 TNR Peugeot start from pole position and move into second place overall in a race where the unseasonably high track temperatures were encouraging drivers to push their Nankang tyres to the limit with the result that there were several off-track excursions lower down the field as the race progressed.
Jack Wheeler in the #57 East Surrey College Citroen C1 battled with Boston College Racing’s Liam Browning before the #91 Citroen was collected on the exit of Chapel Curve, forcing Browning into a spin. Wheeler was able to get alongside Browing and pass the #91 car for second in class. The #91 Boston College Racing Citroen came home to take the final class podium position.
Barracksport’s Andy Dyer finished 4th in class followed by West Suffolk College’s Haydn Payne and QE Motorsports’ Arthur Simondet. Emilia Vincent, driver of the #174 Wiltshire College and University Centre’s Toyota Aygo finished 20th overall and 7th in class while Barracksport GSR’s James Smith and Coleg Gwent Newport’s Ben Shaw completed the Challenge finishers.
Courtesy of his finish in class in race one, Jepp started from the Challenge pole position in race two as the sun started to go down and temperatures dropped at the home of British motorsport. The provisional SMC title winner was untroubled by other Challenge competitors during the 15-minute contest and instead enjoyed some close racing at the front of the field.
Jepp was challenged for second place overall by provisional 2023 CityCar Cup champion Elliot Lettis but the Team Northbrook Racing driver held on to bring the car home for his second overall podium finish of the day.
In an identical class podium finish to race one, ESC’s Jack Wheeler came home second of the Challenge competitors followed by Boston College Racing’s Liam Browning.
West Suffolk College’s Haydn Payne enjoyed a scrap with QE Motorsport’s Arthur Simondet, the former coming out on top to take a 4th place finish in class followed by Simondet in the #12 Citroen. Wiltshire College and University Centre’s Emilia Vincent and Barracksport GSR’s James Smith completed the Challenge finishers while the #11 Barracksport entry, piloted by Andy Dyer, came to a rest after nine laps and became the first SMC entry to fail to finish at the final weekend.
The sun-soaked season finale to the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge season offered learning opportunities beyond just the track action to the students and pupils who were team members of the nine cars on the Challenge grid. On Saturday, October the 7th, the first Student Motorsport Seminar was held in the Silverstone Wing auditorium and speakers from The Motorsports School, The Pebble Agency, EnduranceandGT, Driven By Racing, iManage Performance Ltd and the BRSCC presented on a wide variety of topics ranging from media and mental health through to driver development, trust in teamwork and running a race series. The Student Motorsport Seminar was very well received with attendees enthusing on how they would apply the learning points to develop their teams and careers.
Later on Saturday afternoon, the teams gathered in the garage to compete against the clock in the Nankang Tyre Pit Stop Challenge. The contest involved each team completing a number of tasks in a simulated pit stop. The seven tasks included a driver change, changing all four wheels and adjusting the tyre pressures, cleaning and adjusting the wing mirrors, adjusting the rear dampers, changing the air filter and cleaning the windscreen. Time penalties could be added, and were, for any task that was not completed correctly or conducted in an unsafe manner.
Sponsors Nankang Tyres provided a set of tyres for the winners while Raceparts provided a pit stop lollipop for second place and previous weekend sponsor PBS Brakes provided brake fluid for the third-place finisher.
The winners of the BRSCC-sponsored trophy were George Keith’s East Surrey College team who completed all the required tasks in 4:41.36 in a display of well-planned and expertly coordinated pit work while Barracksport, who also worked tirelessly to prepare the car between rounds, finished second in 4:42.40. Completing the podium finishers, and collecting the PBS brake fluid as a result, was QE Motorsports with a 5:09.56, the only team on the Challenge grid crewed by pupils of school age.
After a year which saw East Surrey College driver Jack Wheeler collect five class victories on his way to the team’s provisional second place finish in the Challenge standings, team manager George Keith was extremely proud of how the team had performed.
“They are amazing,” said George Keith. “They’re brilliant, aren’t they? To finish in that that time, even with a penalty, what a team! It was fantastic. They’ve worked so hard this season. They’ve built the car, they’ve been together throughout the season and this tops it off.”
“That was amazing!” said team member Emily Jackson. “We’ve practised it at college and we’ve put in loads of work and we got our times down and down. It was a bit of a curve ball having the change the rear tyres as well as we’d only practised the front but we made a plan, we stuck to it, everyone knew what they were doing and in the end it paid off!”
There were further awards on offer as a result of the sponsorship of the Donington race weekend in September. 3D360, who were weekend sponsors for the Donington rounds, had provided a 3D printer to be used as a prize for the fastest lap of the weekend over the three track sessions. The 3D printer, a Creality Ender 3, was awarded to Team Northbrook Racing after driver Richard Jepp put in a 1:31.141 during qualifying, beating East Surrey Racing’s Jack Wheeler by two-hundredths of a second. The printer’s capabilities were demonstrated over the weekend and the trophy for Fastest Lap trophy was printed on Saturday, providing an opportunity for passers-by to view the printer in action.
Going into the BRSCC Finals Race Weekend, Team Northbrook Racing had an unassailable lead at the top of the SMo Challenge standings and, barring disqualification or a serious technical infringement, were guaranteed to retain their title. Two victories in class cemented Jepp’s title victory and, after the final race of the 2023 season, TNR has provisionally won the 2023 Student Motorsport Challenge, finishing on 317 points, including dropped scores, 50 points clear of East Surrey College. West Suffolk College finished third in the standings on 225 points.
There was a position change further down the order, however. Barracksport held a narrow advantage over QE Motorsports going into race three but a stoppage out on the circuit for Andy Dyer meant that Arthur Simondet could bring the #12 QE Motorsports Citroen home 4th in class to overtake Harry O’Donoghue’s Oxford-based team to finish 5th in the Challenge standings.
Provisionally Boston College Racing finished 6th in the standings, seven points ahead of Wiltshire College and University Centre. Barracksport GSR finished 8th in the standings with Coleg Gwent Newport in 9th and Menai Motorsport in 10th. All results and standings are currently provisionally ahead of clarification by the BRSCC.
Team Northbrook Racing team manager Emma Norton was delighted to have secured the Challenge title for a second year and was quick to pay tribute to her team members and driver.
“It feels absolutely amazing and in some ways it feels more rewarding than 2022 because last year we won the title in the very last race which was incredibly exciting but we did feel very sorry for East Surrey College. This year, we’ve worked really hard all year and there’s been a much more consistent performance by the team and by Richard, who has been incredible again, so I feel this year it’s a bit more deserved. I’m more proud than ever!
“There have been fewer surprises this season but there have still been things we’ve learned along the way and areas in which we can still improve. We’re going to have a push over the winter at developing our media presence with our new website which will be launched in the next few months. Also, there are other areas we are looking to expand on so there are lots of exciting plans in progress. This year we’ve looked at how we can share the workload more amongst the students so everyone gets an equal chance at doing everything so there are definitely things we’ve learned from last year.”
For TNR driver Richard Jepp, Silverstone meant that his second Challenge title is all but secured.
“It’s been a great weekend!” said Richard Jepp. “I want to thank Emma and all of the students and staff of Team Northbrook Racing who have worked so hard throughout the season to provide me with the best possible car.
“We definitely found some time this weekend and the testing we undertook was very fruitful. The racing was excellent and always respectful at the front. Thank you to all my Student Motorsport Challenge competitors for another season of fantastic competition.”
As the curtain went down on the second season of the Student Motorsport Challenge, founder and series organiser John ‘JP’ Latham paid tribute to the teams, staff and sponsors who made the 2023 SMC season so memorable.
“This has been a fantastic season and many congratulations to Team Northbrook Racing, Emma Norton and driver Richard Jepp for provisionally securing their second Student Motorsport Challenge. Their title run was not easy, given the increased competitiveness of the Challenge grid as the season progressed but they kept focused and disciplined and were rarely off the podium.
“Congratulations, however, to all the teams on the Challenge grid for the way in which they competed in 2023. The hard work, determination and persistence displayed by every team member and staff member was a real credit to their schools, colleges, universities, colleges and student-led teams and they should all feel very proud.
“I want to thank our sponsor for the weekend iManage Performance Ltd for their wonderful prize of a training day hosted at the McLaren Technology Centre and for Bob Bannister’s engaging presentation at the Student Motorsport Seminar this weekend. It’s important to also extend our gratitude towards Charles Grattan, the BRSCC Club Meeting Event Manager, for supporting us with the organisation of the morning seminar.
“I also want to thank Nankang Tyres, Matthew Wright at Raceparts and PBS Brakes for their kind and generous sponsorship of the Pit Stop Challenge and to the BRSCC for their support of the trophy. It was a fantastic competition.
“Finally, I want to pay tribute to all the pupils, students and staff who took in the Challenge this season. They all worked extremely hard and I know they will benefit hugely from the experience and learning opportunities that the Challenge has provided as they move forward with their studies and future motorsport careers.
“We have ever-evolving and exciting developments for next season, both during the off and on season, and very much look forward to welcoming not only our current entrants back for 2024 but also the many new teams who have expressed an interest in taking part in the Challenge with us.”