Michael Epps secured a breakthrough first points finish in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship with a hard-fought performance in the final race of the day at Donington Park (16/17 April).
A sensational drive in his RCIB Insurance Racing Toyota Avensis saw Epps scythe his way through the order, gaining eleven places en-route to a thirteenth place finish – the perfect conclusion to a trying weekend in Leicestershire.
Epps’ opening two encounters proved to be tough affairs as he battled with an increasing loss of power that was eventually diagnosed as a cracked intercooler, but once resolved the 24 year old was able to showcase the true pace at his disposal.
The weekend kicked off in frustrating fashion in Saturday’s two free practice sessions, with Epps not managing to make the progress he’d hoped after suffering from a power steering problem in FP1, but the Team HARD racer was confident of making a big stride forwards in qualifying.
Unfortunately a combination of changeable weather, tyres decisions and red flags conspired against him, with a best effort of 1m 17.214s as the track dried up only enough to put him 24th on the grid for the opening race around the 1.98 mile National circuit.
Epps had to fight hard in that race as the power loss issue reared its head, with some strong overtaking manoeuvres seeing him move up to 19th place when the red flag was produced to bring the race to an early conclusion.
Despite some attempted fixes to the problem between races, Epps faced an uphill battle in the second encounter as the power loss worsened. Running up to 10mph down on his team-mates in the speed traps at points during the race, he could only finish 24th.
The problem was solved ahead of race three however with a crack found in the side of the intercooler, and with that fixed Epps was able to swiftly work his way into the top 20 within the first five laps, before passing a number of established names on his way to a superb 13th.
Epps’ first points finish immediately moves him into the top twenty of the overall drivers’ championship and the top ten of the Independents Trophy, and leaves him confident of challenging for top ten finishes next time out at Thruxton (7/8 May).
Michael Epps: “It’s been a steady climb across the weekend, overcoming the various problems and a below par qualifying to finish off with a first points finish. That was the ultimate aim of the weekend, to get in the points, so I’m really happy to have achieved that.
“The power loss problem was increasing across the meeting, which we finally found to be a crack in the intercooler and was able to fix before race three. It showed straight away as we were much, much faster in that race and I was able to power through the order.
“Between myself and my team-mate Jake Hill now, we’ve proven that these cars are quite quick and are capable of featuring inside the top ten. We go to Thruxton with a car that we know is fast, and we’re confident of a strong weekend.”
Provisional 2016 BTCC Drivers Championship Standings
17= Colin Turkington – 10pts
18= Martin Depper, Dan Welch – 5pts
20= Michael Epps, Jake Hill, Jason Plato – 3pts