Motorsport students at Chichester College’s motorsport students are revving up for the college’s debut in the MINI Challenge.
The car that the college is entering has been donated by Sussex Road and Race who will also be supporting the team throughout the race season.
The car will be run by the students on the Level Two Motorsport Maintenance Diploma, and they will be responsible for maintaining and repairing the vehicle – as well as providing track support during race meetings.
Josh Lednor, a 17 year old student, is one of the Chichester College race team.
He said: “It’s very exciting. I’m really looking forward to going to the first race. Each race, we’ll be looking after the car - making sure it runs well and stays in one piece. We’ll also be prepping it at college before races, and running repairs afterwards. It’s just exciting to be involved in going to races and getting hands-on experience in the real world.”
Experienced Sussex-based rally driver Elspeth Rodgers will be taking to the wheel, making her own debut in the MINI Challenge – and she can’t wait to take to the track at Donington later this month, when the first of seven rounds gets underway.
She said: “I’ve got a healthy mix of nerves and excitement. I’ve had the date in April marked on the calendar for months now. I’m really excited about it and I can’t wait to get it underway to see what we can do. This was the driving position I’ve been waiting for, as it sounded like a perfect match for me – with local businesses, the local college and local people working together. It gives the students practical experience to go alongside their class-based learning which will be invaluable because you can’t simulate the pressure of a race weekend. And then with Sussex Road and Race you’ve got a team who have got tonnes of experience, especially in the MINI challenge which they’ve actually won. This is a team where everyone has a passion for racing, so it’s going to be really good.”
Lecturer Dan Turner has been spearheading the project right from the introduction of a motorsport course just two years ago, wanting to share his passion for the industry and give students the opportunity to experience working in this fast-paced, high-octane sport.
He added: “It’s a fantastic experience. To be involved with a real race team – a race team that won the open class in the championship last year – is an opportunity of a lifetime for these students.
“They’ll be doing anything and everything, from making sure the car is set up perfectly for Elspeth, to sorting out any mechanical issues throughout the season.
“They’ve come onto this course from school because they have a passion for motorsport and they’ve been learning the ropes for the past few months with me.
“We’ve had a lot of support from Kevin Fulbrook at Sussex Road & Race, who own the car but have donated it to us for the year, and from Elspeth who has not only invested her money in racing with us this season, but is also putting a lot of faith and trust in us.
“And our other sponsors who have made this happen – Freshlayers for wrapping the car, Neo-Tech who have donated temperature measuring equipment, Chandlers Mini/BMW who are helping us with parts and MW Scooters who are supporting us with a supply of brake pads for the season.
“We wouldn’t be able to give our students this incredible opportunity without these businesses.”
Michael Walsh, who owns MW Scooters studied motor vehicle maintenance at Chichester College after leaving school and he didn’t hesitate to help when he heard what the team were doing.
He said: “Being an ex-student, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved and to give something back.
“I was in their shoes, so I’m proud to be in a position to be able to help and to show them that they can do anything they want to, if they put their mind to it.”
The Chichester College car will race for the first time at Donington, from April 13-15, as the first leg of the MINI Challenge gets started.