Michael Epps’ abilities were tested to a new level during the weekend of rounds 11 and 12 of the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup last weekend. Leaving the Spa-Francorchamps rounds as a double winner, hopes were high for the Hertfordshire driver heading into Brands Hatch. However, with mechanical and pace-related issues facing him during the double header, he put on a display of grit and determination to turn his weekend around for a spectacular win against several tough competitors including BTCC winner and guest entry Tom Onslow-Cole.
With 60kg of success ballast onboard, Epps was always going to struggle going into qualifying. But a hub failure cut Epps’ session short, resulting in his Team Hard Racing Golf GTi leaving the circuit abruptly on lap six, and he only managed to qualify 11th with six tenths of a second to P2 and Onslow-Cole a further 7 tenths ahead in pole position.
“That didn’t go quite how we planned it”, said Epps. “Losing all steering mid-corner is quite unnerving! I think we can find some of our time without changing anything as I hadn’t reached my maximum pace when it went, but Onslow-Cole seems to have an advantage on us all.”
Starting in 11th with his car repaired, Epps pushed hard from the off to come through gradually to sixth position, benefiting from a coming together between two cars ahead of him along the way. With an incident mid-race causing a safety car, all was left until the last lap where the race finally resumed and Epps remained in sixth to the finish. As the reverse grid is applied to the top six, this gave Epps pole position for Race Two (Rd 12).
“It was one of those races where you have to wait for it to come to you. I couldn’t quite catch the guys ahead on the first few laps but then began to reel them in. Then once I was in sixth I knew I was in a good place for the next race and so just held my position on the final lap.”
Starting on pole for the final encounter of the weekend, Epps kept his place on the getaway but before any of the cars could reach turn two the red flags were out for an incident. At the race restart, Epps didn’t quite get the same launch and lost out to both Howard Fuller and Onslow-Cole, but he fought back around the back section of the GP circuit, passing Onslow-Cole with a brave move around the outside.
Into lap two, Epps pulled off yet another stand-out move around the outside of team-mate Fuller to take the lead. Contact between Onslow-Cole and Fuller resulted in the latter being pushed off track allowing Epps to pull out a small gap but it wasn’t long before he was under threat again from the ex-BTCC driver.
Before anything else could unfold the raced was stopped again because of a huge incident around the GP section of the circuit and Epps took the win by default. The driver who crashed, Joe Fulbrook, barrel rolled after smashing into the inside barriers. He was confirmed as ok after medical checks.
“I’m happy I guess.” Epps commented. “It was a weird race, full of drama. I don’t think I quite had the pace needed to win really so maybe I’m lucky, but I fought very hard for it too. Thanks to Team Hard Racing and all of my supporters, it’s great to take yet another trophy home and I’m looking forward to pushing for more as the season closes.”
Epps’ next races will be at Snetterton in Norfolk on 22-23 August.