Following two hard years of racing in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), Mike Epps took to his first Clio Cup races of the season last weekend with brand new racing team Matrix Motorsport and came out in third position in the overall driver standings. His results also vaulted Matrix to third position in the team championship on their debut as a team that formed just months ago towards the end of the 2017 season.
Competing in two races over the weekend, Epps gridded up eighth and ninth with a qualifying session he described as “not our best yet”, drivers’ first and second fastest times in the session would decide their grid spot for the two races. In full dry conditions Epps posted times about three tenths of a second off pole, which for him and the team’s experience wasn’t a bad effort at all.
He commented: “I could be happier, but I could also be a lot worse off. Qualifying sessions are where teams show off their knowledge from testing and drivers show that last little bit of magic they have in the bag. I definitely didn’t leave 3 tenths in the bag, but there was a red flag which definitely interrupted our second new tyre run so maybe that can be attributed to some of it, but reviewing data we can improve that part.”
After an incident stopped race one, Epps was re-gridded to ninth place having lost out at the first start. With a shortened race he picked through to sixth place at the flag, with fifth and fourth finishing less than a second ahead. A good points haul for his first result.
Race two, showing live on the ITV4 cameras, was soaking wet, Epps again starting in ninth place. Boxed in at the start, he jostled for position, eventually climbing through to fifth place in the later laps catching all cars ahead of him. He had a lap long battle with Pyro’s Bradley Burns for fourth place, then set on catching triple champion Paul Rivett and Jack McCarthy battling for third, only only just catching them by the finish.
A consistent pair of results leaves Mike third overall in the UK Clio Cup Championship with Rivett and Max Coates ahead, each taking a win in the opening races.
“I’m happy enough with that for a weekend of first experiences. Considering we didn’t get everything out of qualifying that I feel we could have, we’ve done well to come out of the weekend in the top three. Matrix have put together a solid effort and we’ve definitely made some good ground to build on for the next one. Thanks again to Matrix, their sponsors and my sponsors for pulling this together.”
The next Clio Cup rounds take place at Donington Park on 28/29 April.