Michael Epps dominated rounds 9 and 10 of the Miltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup at Spa Francorchamps last weekend [10-11 July 2015], taking pole position, two victories and setting a new lap record.
As a support race for the popular 25hr VW Fun Cup meeting and British GT, the VWR Cup races were amongst the most exciting of the weekend with many drivers fighting tooth and nail for the lead.
Epps set out to impress immediately during practice, setting fastest times in only his first laps of the 4.3 mile GP circuit. After a team test at Brands Hatch the week before, Team Hard Racing’s package looked to be significantly improved. “We’ve done quite a bit of work since Silverstone”, said Epps prior to the weekend. “We’ve focused particularly on the cars handling, we were struggling with car rotation for better corner exits and we’ve definitely made improvements there. Overall everything is just stronger, I feel more at home in the car now too.”
Working with his team-mates for an all important slipstream, Epps took pole by a considerable 6 tenths of a second in warm dry conditions. Fellow Team Hard drivers Howard Fuller and Bobby Thompson placed second and fourth respectively.
Race one wasn’t the easiest of affairs for Epps. With over a second a lap to be gained from a slipstream off someone elses car, he was passed by championship leader David Sutton on lap 2, but hung on and retaliated later in the race leaving the Slide Sports driver at mercy to team-mates Fuller and Thompson, pulling out a gap to win. Team Hard secured it’s first podium lock-out with a 1-2-3.
“The VW Sirocco car, which Sutton drives, often struggles to maintain pace towards the end of a race, whereas our Golfs are longer lasting which is great around here. I made sure to pass Sutton when Howard and Bobby were close enough so he fell into the pack while I drove out a gap.”
Race two was certainly the most exciting encounter of the weekend, with a reverse grid for the top 6 from race one. Epps didn’t have the best of getaways, but maintained position on the first lap. Picking off Thompson early, he followed Fuller through until reaching Sutton and championship contender Lucas Orrock at the front, pulling off a blinding move around the outside into the first corner, La Source, passing all three to take the lead.
Orrock fought back the following lap though, towing his way round the outside of Epps up Kemmel Straight. Epps then made a final move on Orrock though, leaving him to battle with Fuller while he pulled out a small gap to win by 1.7 seconds.
Epps commented after, “That was fanstastic. I tried out a few karting style moves into La Source, it’s such a tight corner you can just bomb it up the outside when people are bunched up defending and just go around the outside of them. I think I got quite lucky this time, but it sure did work. I had a great battle with someone almost every lap and I have to give everyone credit for keeping it clean. I have to give a massive thanks to Team Hard Racing this weekend. They deserved these results, the cars sure are worthy of wins now and I look forward to the rest of the season.”
Epps’ next races in the VWR Cup are on 1st-2nd August, in three weeks time.