The Huntingdonshire Regional College (HRC) Race Team is celebrating a piece of motorsport history.

The student-based outfit became the first college team to win a national sportscar crown when driver Howard Payne roared to victory in the Clubmans 1600 series.

Payne sped home in the final race of the season to snatch top spot in the closest finish to the championship's 49-year history.

"I managed to get the fastest lap in the final race which gave me the extra point to become champion," said Payne, a racer of 30 years experience. "We led the series from the start of the season and without the effort put in by students and staff at HRC it wouldn't have been possible."

Payne was the only competitor to start and finish every race in the series, demonstrating the students' time, effort and skilful preparation which ultimately paid off.

Lewis Beales, the HRC motorsport programme leader, said: "We have developed a programme of study around the race team activities which not only allows our learners to gain real race experience but is used, almost uniquely, to form the basis of their qualification."

The HRC team's effort, backed by assistance from several companies and individuals, managed two victories in the 12-race series with six other podium finishes.

The students are already carrying out developments on the Mallock Mk20B race car centred on the brakes and a change of tyre construction.

HRC principal and CEO, Suzanne Stent, said: "I am thrilled for Howard and the whole team who deserved this championship victory."

HRC Race Team members:

Graduates: Ashlee Thomas, Sarah Freemantle, Jacob Manlow, Connor Gordon.

Seniors: Ashley Beba, Holly Burton, Alex Butson, Alex Hallett, Thomas Harvey, Alex Howson, William Hutchins, David Norton, Lewis Painter, Shaun Robinson, Douglas Wilson.

Juniors: Joshua Farr, Joshua King, Tobias O'Rourke, Ashley Poulton, Adam Rolph, Katrina Tabbitt, Sean Warnes.