TNR’s Jepp wins two out of three as QE Motorsport’s Jackson takes debut Student Motorsport Challenge victory at Snetterton

Richard Jepp - Winning at Snetterton Opener - April 2024 (Photo: JP Latham)

The 2024 Student Motorsport Challenge Presented by P1 Graphics, part of the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship, got underway at a wind-swept Snetterton over the weekend of April the 6th to the 7th. A record 13-car grid for the premier UK student-focused circuit-based series saw two class wins go to the 2022 and 2023 title holders Team Northbrook Racing as Richard Jepp took Challenge victories in races one and two.

Richard Jepp in the SMo Paddock (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Making his debut in the Challenge, QE Motorsport’s Joshua Jackson won the Challenge class in race three after two second place finishes in class in the opening two contests.

Joshua Jackson in the #27 QE Motorsport Citroen C1 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

The weekend got underway with a 15-minute qualifying session and QE Motorsport’s Joshua Jackson was immediately on the pace in the #27 Citroen C1, securing both the overall and class pole positions with a 2:37.958 on his fourth lap. Second quickest and joining Jackson on the front row for Race One, was Richard Jepp, driving the #65 TNR Peugeot. Brady Pollock, also making his debut in the Student Motorsport Challenge with West Suffolk College, went third quickest in class. Pollock had recently graduated from karts and Snetterton would his first taste of car racing.

Brady Pollock - Snetterton (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

12 of the 13 Student Motorsport Challenge entries made it out for qualifying. The #26 City College Norwich Peugeot with driver Leon Wilde failed to join the session due to a scrutineering issue. Wilde joined qualifying during for the Silverlake C1 Endurance Series later in the day which would enable the #26 car to potentially start Race Two but a blown engine on his return to the paddock meant the team, making its Challenge debut, had to work hard to source and install a new engine.

“In true Challenge style and testament to the nature of the series, we have enjoyed seeing City College Norwich supported by several teams including West Suffolk College, Boston College and Barracksport all ‘pitching in’ to help the team, my thanks go out to all involved.” JP Latham, series organiser.

City College Norwich Car #26 Engine Change - Snetterton April 2024 (Photo: JP Latham)

In Race One, Jepp continued his winning form from 2023 when the #65 TNR Peugeot took the chequered flag for the team’s first victory in class for the new season. Jepp finished second overall and just two-tenths of a second ahead of QE Motorsport’s Joshua Jackson, resulting in two Challenge entries finishing second and third in the overall contest, a first for the series only in its third season.

Completing the Challenge podium was Brady Pollock in the #12 West Suffolk College Toyota. Pollock’s podium showed just how competitive the 2024 season was going to be for the expanded Challenge grid.

Snetterton Race 1 Podium - April 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Jepp and Jackson enjoyed a close battle at the front after the TNR pilot passed the QE Motorsport driver in the opening seconds. Jackson managed to get past the #65 car in the second half of the 15-minute race before running wide and allowing Jepp to regain second place overall.

With less than eight minutes remaining, Stuart Bliss passed Richard Jepp for the overall lead and the TNR driver was unable to find a way past over the closing laps.

Bliss Passes Jepp with Minutes Remaining - Snetterton Race 1 - April 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Jack Wheeler in the #57 East Surrey College entry finished fourth with James Reilly in the #11 Barracksport Citroen and Haydn Payne in the #72 QE Motorsport entry completing the top six.

Finishing 7th in class was Rory Pickles in the #52 Boston College Racing entry on the debut for the 16-year-old. Andrew Payne, the father of Haydn, finished 8th in the second WSC entry with TNR’s Ari Barker, Barracksport GSR’s James Smith, Boston College Racing’s Nick Abbott and Glenn Bee, driving for City College Norwich, completing the finishers for what was a record grid of Challenge competitors.

Andrew Lloyd interviews Rory Pickles - SMo Paddock April 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

TNR’s Richard Jepp made it two-out-of-two when #65 driver brought the orange-and-black #65 Peugeot home for his second victory in class on Sunday. In a repeat of Race One, Joshua Jackson finished second in class at the wheel of the #27 QE Motorsport entry while Jack Wheeler took his first podium finish of 2024, crossing the line third in class.

Snetterton Race 2 Podium - April 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Brady Pollock had another solid race in the #12 West Suffolk College Toyota to finish in fourth.

Team Northbrook Racing finished second on the overall podium, showing the development in competitiveness for Challenge entries over the Winter period. Despite pushing race winner Stuart Bliss in the #18 Autobliss Toyota, Jepp was unable to find a way past to take the overall win.

Haydn Payne in the #72 WSC Citroen finished fifth in class followed by James Reilly in the #11 Barracksport entry. Reilly also completed the top ten finishers overall.

Rory Pickles finished seventh in class and 16th overall, improving his overall finishing position by three places from Race One.

Rory Pickles - Debut Weekend with Boston College Racing - Snetterton April 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

City College Norwich, new to the Student Motorsport Challenge for 2024, joined their fellow Challenge competitors on the grid after working flat-out since their engine failure on Saturday to acquire and install a new powerplant in their #26 Peugeot. A cheer went up from the paddock as the car moved under its own power for the first time on the Sunday morning.

Leon Wilde Joins the Grid in the #26 City College Norwich Peugeot 107 (Photo: JP Latham)

“The team has worked very hard over the last few hours,” said Team Principal Leon Wilde. “They’ve been very busy getting the engine in, making sure it was running properly, setting up the clutch and getting the car ready to race. I’m immensely proud of the team. They worked late into the evening last night and then got stuck in really early this morning so yes, it’s brilliant to be back and it’s all down to the team.”

Andrew Lloyd interviews Team Principal and Driver Leon Wilde - SMo Paddock April 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

The final BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship race, incorporating the Student Motorsport Challenge, saw some of the closest and most competitive racing of the weekend. With the grid for the top ten reversed, Barracksport’s James Reilly started on the front row and was the Challenge pole sitter. Reily was passed by East Surrey College’s Wheeler in the opening seconds.

There was a scramble for track position on the opening lap and as the field passed the start-finish line for the first time, it was Richard Jepp who was leading the Challenge entries. Jepp moved into the overall lead after three laps and started to pull out an advantage over Joshua Jackson and Stuart Bliss.

Jackson and Bliss had closed the gap to Jepp by the final lap and a move down the inside of the #65 car by Jackson on the final corner pushed by Challenge entries wide and allowed Stuart Bliss through for his third overall win of the weekend.

Bliss (in background) Lines up the Pack - Snetterton Race 3 - April 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

ESC’s Wheeler completed the podium finishers in class followed by Barracksport’s James Reilly, QE Motorsport’s Haydn Payne and Boston College Racing’s Rory Pickles.

Following the opening weekend’s three rounds, the #65 Team Northbrook Racing Peugeot 107 driven by Richard Jepp provisionally (awaiting official results from BRSCC) leads the Student Motor Challenge standings on 58 points with QE Motorsport and its #27 Citroen driven by Joshua Jackson just three points behind. East Surrey College sits in third place on 45 points followed by Barracksport in fourth with 40 points.

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

For Team Northbrook Racing’s Team Principal Emma Norton, the opening weekend of 2024 saw a solid start to the team’s title defence.

“We’ve had a fantastic weekend,” said Emma Norton. “It’s not just Richards’s amazing two first places but also Ari Barker’s incredible debut weekend. The last race saw Ari pick up so much time and he’s done really well. For both of our drivers, all of the students, all of our staff who support this – it’s been an incredible weekend. 

“I am incredibly proud of the whole team!”

Team Principal Emma Norton - Snetterton - April 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

For Student Motorsport founder and Challenge organiser John Paul ‘JP’ Latham, the weekend had been a great success, not just from the on-track competition but as a result of the off-track challenges that many teams faced.

“I am delighted at how the weekend has gone and incredibly proud of the whole Student Motorsport Challenge paddock,” said JP Latham.

Andy Lloyd Talks Weekend Action with Challenge Organiser JP Latham - Snetterton April 2024 (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

“Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to Tom Pledger and P1 Graphics who have sponsored this weekend. Tom’s work for Student Motorsport in supporting our media activities both over the weekend and in the lead-up to the season start has been instrumental in developing our media presence. 

“Congratulations to Richard Jepp and Team Northbrook Racing for their two Challenge wins and also to their driver Richard Jeep on collecting the Fastest Lap Trophy of the weekend (during Qualifying) produced and presented by P1 Graphics. Also many congratulations to QE Motorsport and Joshua Jackson for their first Challenge victory. As we said before the start of the season, the competition will be a lot tougher this year and I am sure that we will see many new faces on the podium as the season progresses.

A Proud Team (TNR) at Snetterton - April 2024 (Photo: JP Latham)

“The Challenge again achieved what it is designed to do and provided real-world trackside experience for future motorsport professionals. I was delighted that City College Norwich, who have joined us this year, got their #26 car out for Sunday’s races after an engine change.

“The season is now well and truly underway and I can’t wait to be back in the paddock at Oulton Park for the next two rounds in May.”

The BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship resumes on Saturday May the 25th for a double-header at Oulton Park.