Following an impressive maiden season this year, Mike Epps will return to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship grid in 2017 after signing a deal with Team HARD to compete in a Volkswagen CC.
At has continued his partnership with Team HARD into a third year following seasons together in the Volkswagen Racing Cup and then the BTCC, with the Hemel Hempstead racer producing a hugely promising first campaign in the UK’s premier racing championship.
Breaking into the top ten for the first time in only his third meeting in the series at Thruxton, Epps would go on to secure seven outright points finishes across the season and a top ten finish in the Independents Trophy standings.
On top of that, Epps would also be a leading light in the Jack Sears Trophy for rookie drivers, stepping onto the BTCC podium at both Snetterton and Silverstone as the class winner; results that helped him take the class title battle down to the season finale.
After racing the ageing Toyota Avensis this year, Epps climbs aboard new machinery for 2017 in the shape of one of Team HARD’s newly-acquired Volkswagen CC’s, a model which has been a multiple race-winner in the series in recent seasons.
With the 2017 Swindon engine and the RML specification running parts, the Team HARD CC has the potential to be a very competitive package next season, with Epps setting his sights on more points results and podium finishes in his second BTCC campaign.
The 24 year old’s return to the pinnacle of UK motorsport comes thanks to the support of Team Hard, continued partners Anytime Fitness and Simply Race, and other backers that are to be announced in the near future.
Mike Epps: “I was a little worried about being a one season wonder in the BTCC, especially being such a tough season with a few disadvantages and setbacks, but I’m glad I was able to make an impression and create a 2017 campaign out of it.
“I can’t forget that Tony (Gilham) has essentially opened the door for me to race in a championship I once only ever looked at as a dream. Now we are set for year number two and I think we have a good chance to make a real impact.”
“As anyone would expect with a small budget and a team that aren’t as experienced in my rookie season, there have been lots of challenges and I’m sure there are plenty more ahead. The ingredients are there though; with new cars and more people on-board I think we have every reason to be properly in the mix this time. We definitely outdid our equipment this year."
“The deal is the right one for us at the end of the day. The team are passionate, they’re loud, and they want success. I have a great relationship with them and I think we’ve got what it takes, this will be the first time I’ve done a second season in any championship too.”
Tony Gilham (Team HARD principal): “We are very proud to have been able to put a package together to retain Mike for 2017. It is important for us to try to keep as much consistency with the team as possible and we have a great foundation on which to build on.
“He had a great season and we believe that next year will be very interesting to see how far up the grid Mike can get. His pace was outstanding last year and he got nowhere near enough credit for his consistent front-running lap times each weekend.”
Alongside his racing, Epps will also be providing some exciting opportunities for sponsors and fans throughout the off-season and 2017. He and Team Hard are offering the first ever BTCC driving experience in a 2016 BTCC car; where anyone with a driving licence can sign up to try it out. Driving experiences are also available in VW Cup cars (which Mike raced in 2015) and fund raising simulator racing competitions will also be held at Simply Race in Milton Keynes.
"I'm dead excited to offer others an experience in a BTCC car, we ran our first day last weekend. It was an absolute success and nine lucky people walked away grinning from ear to ear having driven a touring car. We reckon we should be able to run a couple of these days each month; it’ll really help me and the team. It’s already proven popular and we expect the next few days to book up very quickly.”
For more information on Mike’s racing and updates on his track experiences and other fundraising events, you can find info soon on http://www.mikeepps.co.uk. He is also contactable via his Twitter, @EppsRacer and Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/eppsracer.