Michael Epps saw a potential points finish disappear with a puncture during a meeting of positive progression in the latest rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park this past weekend (04/05 June).
Bouncing back well from a disappointing Saturday, Epps worked his way through the field across the three races on Sunday and looked set to add to his championship points tally in the final encounter before suffering a tyre failure on his RCIB Insurance Racing Toyota Avensis.
Settling into the top twenty across the two free practice sessions around the undulating Cheshire circuit, Epps was left frustrated in qualifying when he could only post the 22nd best time of the session, matching his best qualifying result of the season so far from Thruxton.
With some tweaks to the set-up overnight, the 24 year old was confident of moving forwards in the sweltering sunshine, but a slow launch from the line in the opener left him facing an uphill battle from back in 29th position.
Epps produced a strong recovery drive however and picked his way through the order to 22nd position, before contact from Alex Martin at Old Hall pushed him wide and dropped him to an eventual finish of 25th.
The Hemel Hempstead-based racer was able to work his way into points contention in the second race, swiftly climbing into the top twenty and consolidating his position with some consistent lap times, before benefitting from late drama for others to finish in 16th.
After narrowly missing out on points in that race, Epps was eager to finish his weekend on a high in race three. With a small change helping stabilise the rear of his Avensis, he produced a great opening lap to climb into 13th position.
Briefly gaining a position, Epps settled back in 13th for a long spell of the race and was in the thick of a mammoth battle over the last few positions in the top ten when a slow puncture derailed his challenge, eventually forcing him to pull off track into retirement.
After posting top ten lap times in that race, Epps leaves Oulton in confident mood ahead of the visit to Croft in two weeks’ time (18/19 June) for Rounds 13, 14 and 15, which he approaches in 23rd place in the overall championship.
Michael Epps: “It’s another one of those weekends for us. There were ups and downs, with signs of real promise and all the usual frustrations. Qualifying is a perfect example of that, we just couldn’t quite get it hooked up and it just wasn’t a good show all in on Saturday.
“We made gradual improvements throughout Sunday though and the car got quicker and quicker. Everything glued together much better, we sorted out our starts and track position, but then a tyre let us down in the middle of race three which was really disappointing.
“I’m positive that we showed again that we can run towards the front of the field and while luck wasn't in our favour this weekend, we’ve certainly got the potential to enjoy a positive weekend at Croft next time out.”
Images from BTCC Media.