The Student Motorsport Challenge Powered by Car Chase Heroes returns to Donington Park with record-equalling 14-car grid

Donington Park Circuit - Photo: MSV
Donington Park Circuit - Photo: MSV

The Student Motorsport Challenge Powered by Car Chase Heroes returns to Donington Park over the weekend of June the 22nd and 23rd with a grid of 14 entries, equalling the record for the premier real-world racing series for schools, colleges and universities. When the Student Motorsport Challenge last visited Donington in September 2023, Boston College Racing’s Liam Browning took two victories in class and finished just outside the overall podiums on both occasions. With regular #34 pilot Nick Abbott still recovering from injuries sustained in a testing accident last time out at Oulton Park, Browning makes a return to BCR to take over driving duties for the Donington Park double-header with the car renumbered from #34 to #91. 

Boston College Racing team with their driver Liam Browning - September 2023

Team Northbrook Racing has got its season off to a flying start with four class wins out of five for double Challenge champion Richard Jepp. The start of the season has not been without its challenges, however, after Ari Barker’s incident at Oulton Park and Emma Norton’s team will be looking to secure some solid results for Barker on his return at Donington.

Ari Barker - Snetterton at the wheel of the #87 TNR Peugeot 107 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

After five rounds, the #65 TNR entry leads the Challenge standings on 42 points after dropped scores followed by QE Motorsports’ Joshua Jackson on 38 points. Brady Pollock in the #12 West Suffolk College Toyota Aygo completes the top three in the standings on 35 points.

For Donington Park, the Student Motorsport Challenge is supported by Car Chase Heroes. As a leading provider of supercar driving experiences throughout the UK, Car Chase Heroes offers its customers the opportunity to get behind the wheel of vehicles such as the McLaren 570S, the Porsche 911 and the Ferrari 360, all with an experienced instructor to guide you through the experience. Car Chase Heroes will be offering a driving experience prize over the Donington Park weekend and details of the judging criteria will be announced on Saturday June the 22nd.

The #65 Team Northbrook Racing (TNR) Peugeot 107 driven by Richard Jepp heads the Challenge standings on 42 points (99 points before dropped scores). As previously mentioned, Jepp has taken Challenge class honours in four out of the five rounds so far in a season that has seen the Harwin-backed driver take his first overall victory in the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship when he crossed the line in race one last time out at Oulton Park.

TNR's Richard Jepp taking another win in race 2 - Oulton Park - May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Given their now-extensive experience in the Challenge, Team Northbrook Racing must be a strong favourite to make it three titles in a row. However, the 2022 season demonstrated that consistent points-scoring can make all the difference after season favourite Andy Burgess, driving the East Surrey College entry, lost the title on the final race at Silverstone. 

Ari Barker in TNR’s #87 entry was unable to compete in rounds four and five at Oulton Park after an incident in practice led to damage that was unrepairable at the circuit. The team then withdrew the care from Sunday’s two contests. Barker was shaken but thankfully unhurt and will return for the Donington rounds following the preparation of new donor car.

QE Motorsports (QEM) got their season off to a dream start with Joshua Jackson in the QE #27 car scoring two second place finishes in class followed by his first victory in the Student Motorsport Challenge in Race Three at Snetterton. Oulton Park saw the young driver, now in his second year of CityCar competition take 7th-place finishes to leave him second on the Challenge standings on 38 points (77 before dropped scores).

Jackson enjoyed success at Donington Park in 2022 when he finished 4th in race one so he will be looking to build on that experience when he returns to the Leicestershire circuit this weekend with Helen Snuggs’ squad.

Snetterton Race 3 Podium - April 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Jackson’s teammate Haydn Payne, also in his second season of Challenge competition, has also got his season off to a solid start with a trio of 4th-place finishes and has not finished outside the top six on the opening five rounds. Payne took his first Challenge podium at Brands Hatch in 2023 and is clearly hungry for more success. The last time the Challenge visited Donington, Payne, son of West Suffolk College’s Andrew Payne, finished 4th in class in both races. Nothing less than a podium on his return to the circuit in 2024 will satisfy the ambitions of this young racer.

SMo Challenge podium after round 15. Emilia Vincent (R), Haydn Payne (L) and Richard Jepp (C) (Photo: Sam Martin – Aston Studios)
SMo Challenge podium after round 15. Emilia Vincent (R), Haydn Payne (L) and Richard Jepp (C) (Photo: Sam Martin – Aston Studios)

Welsh tech entrepreneur James Smith returns to the Barracksport GSR #49 entry after handing over driving duties to Matty Prance for Rounds Four and Five at Oulton Park. Team member Prance, now working at Ginetta, drove the #49 Citroen to a pair of 8th place finishes in class which puts the Barracksport GSR entry 8th in the Challenge standings on 20 points after dropped scores (45 in total)

Barracksport GSR Team (Silverstone Final 2023) with their Driver James Smith (2nd From Right)

James Reilly in the #11 Barracksport entry is currently 7th in the Challenge standings after three top five finishes on the opening weekend. The team endured a frustrating weekend at Oulton Park with an engine change resulting in a DNF at Race One and a 9th in Race Two. Harry O’Donoghue’s and Ben Latham’s team have always performed well in adversity and we can expect to see them fighting back at Donington.

Barracksport's #11 undergoing engine repairs for Saturday's races - Oulton Park May 2024 (Photo: Student Motorsport)

Barracksport has been working hard on sponsorship and will be sporting the logo of the John Henry Group on their cars at Donington. Founded in 1885, the John Henry Group is a leading force in the civil engineering and telecommunications industries. The team is also stripping down and rebuilding a motor gifted to them by sponsor and CALM All Porche driver James Harvey. Barracksport intends to install the engine soon.

City College Norwich (CCN) welcomed a new driver to its fold last time out at Oulton Park when 2023 BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Champion Elliot Lettis joined Leon Wilde’s two-car team to drive the #3 Peugeot 107. The Sussex-based driver took little time in getting familiar with the car and took his first Challenge podium in Race One at Donington before finishing 5th in Race Two. With his experience of driving CityCars in competition, we can expect to see Lettis challenging for more class podiums at Oulton Park. The #3 CCN entry is currently 10th in the Challenge standings. 

Race 1 Result - Oulton Park - May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Glenn Bee, driver of the #12 CCN entry, is a novice driver and still learning his craft but race finishes in all five rounds of the 2024 season show that Bee is adopting a steady and determined approach to getting quicker. Could Donington Park be a break-through weekend for the CCN lecturer? Based on current results, it could well be.

Glenn Bee - Snetterton at the wheel of the #19 City College Norwich Citroen C1 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Since Oulton Park, driver Elliot Lettis has spent a day with the students and staff teaching them additional set-up and race preparation skills. Everyone involved learned a huge amount and we can expect to see both CCN entries benefiting from the training when the Challenge visits Leicestershire.

City College Norwich - Brands Hatch - Elliot Lettis Testing 20.05.24

Boston College Racing (BCR) had a successful weekend when the Student Motorsport Challenge visited Donington Park in 2023. The-BCR pilot Liam Browning took the first Challenge wins for Lee Crisp’s Lincolnshire-based squad which helped the team finish 6th in the Challenge standings. 

For 2024 BCR has expanded to a two-car team with Nick Abbott and Rory Pickles. Nick Abbott’s season has got off to steady start with finishes in all five rounds and the #34 BCR Toyota Aygo currently lies 11th in the standings on 14 points after dropped scores (34 points overall). Since Oulton Park, the #34 car has been stripped back to a bare shell to check for further damage caused by the Friday testing accident. In addition, a number of suspension components have been replaced and, as mentioned above, Liam Browning will drive the re-numbered #91 car for the Donington rounds. 

Post Oulton Park - Extensive Repair to the BCR #34

Novice racer Rory Pickles will be studying Motorsport at Boston College in September and is using this season to gain experience of circuit racing. Pickles, alongside West Suffolk College’s Brady Pollock, has proved a revelation in the series and has finished inside the top seven in class over all five rounds. Pickles exudes confidence and appears very relaxed around the paddock despite 2024 being his first year in cars. The #42 has undergone a series of checks and some panel repairs ahead of Donington Park.

BCR are testing at the circuit on Friday the 21st which will offer the team an excellent opportunity to thoroughly shake-down its rebuilt car.

East Surrey College and its driver Jack Wheeler have stood on the Student Motorsport Challenge podium three times in 2024 and have not finished outside the top five in at Snetterton and Oulton Park. Donington Park is a circuit that Wheeler knows well, having finished second and third in class when the series last visited Leicestershire in 2023. Jason Chapman’s East Surrey College squad will be pushing hard to recapture the form that saw Wheeler leading the overall CityCar Cup Championship field at Snetterton last year.

Race 2 Result - Oulton Park - May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

West Suffolk College travel to Donington third after a solid start to the season. Brady Pollock, driver of the #12 WSC entry, proved a revelation when he finished on the Challenge podium in just his first race in cars. Pollock followed it up with a pair of second place finishes in class last time out at Oulton Park and will be looking to build on that success at Donington.

Brady Pollock - Race 1 Interview - Oulton Park May 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Teammate Andrew Payne, driver of the team’s #73 Peugeot 107 is a highly experienced racer and we can expect him to be looking for class podium finishes at Donington Park.

Making their debut last time out at Oulton Park, Sussex Motorsports left the North-East with two ninth place finishes on the board and now lies 14th in the Challenge standings with 17 points. Shive Bhagnari and Nathan Lee’s journey in motorsports is just beginning and they have ambitious plans for their Brighton-based team to provide a platform for young Sussex-based motorsport enthusiasts to gain real-world racing experience. The team, along with driver Colin Dunn, will be one to watch as the 2024 progresses.

Sussex Motorsports - Team Debut - Oulton Park - May 2024 (Photo: Student Motorsport)

Sussex Motorsports has recently announced a new team kit provider in the form of Backstreet Company. Formed in 2019, Backstreet Company was founded on the idea of bringing sport back to students and the company reinvests part of every order back into the teams they are working with to help with the club’s costs. 

Student Motorsport Challenge track action gets underway at Donington Park at 10.10am on Sunday June the 23rd with qualifying followed by two 15-minute races. The lights go out for Race One at 12.10am followed by the second contest at 2.55pm.