Mike Epps endured a meeting to forget during the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s annual trip north of the border this past weekend (12/13 August) as he battled to a best finish of seventeenth during Rounds 19, 20 and 21 at Knockhill.
With the long wheelbase of his AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Volkswagen CC not being suited to the technical, undulating nature of the Scottish circuit, Epps and the Team HARD squad were anticipating an uphill struggle heading into the seventh meeting of the season.
That would turn out to be the case throughout the weekend, with changing weather conditions and an alternator problem in free practice two hampering Epps’ preparations ahead of qualifying on Saturday, which itself would turn into a lottery as the circuit dried after earlier rainfall.
Epps would give his all to post a strong time as the conditions improved in the closing minutes of the session, however a combination of a brake issue and other drivers blocking him on his decisive laps would leave him a truly unrepresentative 28th on the final timesheets.
The issues would leave the Anytime Fitness and Simply Race supported racer on the backfoot for Sunday’s races, with the opening encounter setting the tone for the day ahead as Epps struggled to make progress in the midfield and took the finish in P24.
The second race of the day would mark Epps' 50th start in the BTCC, however there wouldn’t be much to celebrate for the 25 year old though as after gaining a number of positions when others hit trouble, he was unable to challenge for the points on his way to seventeenth.
That result would end up being his best result of the day however, as after initially rising to a high of fourteenth in the opening laps of race three, Epps would unfortunately fall back through the order as the race progressed to cap off a disastrous visit to Scotland in P23.
The final three meetings of the season take place at circuits much more suited to the Volkswagen CC however, meaning the Hemel Hempstead racer heads into them in much more positive spirits, starting with next weekend’s visit to Rockingham in Corby (26/27 August).
Mike Epps: “We knew this would be a bogey circuit for us, but I don’t think any of us anticipated to struggle quite this much. It was qualifying that really hit us, as it’s so difficult to get anything positive from the races when you start back in 28th.
“All of my finishes were higher than that, so we were able to make some progress with a best of 17th in race two, but the car just wasn’t strong enough in the key areas compared to the others for us to be able to go on the offensive, especially when some were able to just pull away on the straights.
“It’s a tough circuit out of the way though and the next three tracks are apparently much better for the car, so we’re hoping for a more positive end to the season with some consistent points finishes and maybe more in the final rounds. Let’s see what happens.”
Photo by BTCC Media/Jakob Ebrey Photography