Mike Epps had a weekend of unfulfilled potential at the penultimate rounds of the UK Clio Cup Championship at Silverstone, Northamptonshire, saying the race pace he had was stronger than it has ever been all year with Matrix Motorsport, proving he and the debut racing team together are a fierce combination to reckon with, but that bad luck cast a shadow over their performance this weekend.
With the 26-year old holding 6th place in the championship and mathematically in the running for the title, he headed into the weekend fired up for podiums and wins. Lacking outright pace with a slight lack of engine performance and slipstream, he qualified 7th and 6th for the two races, but knew that when in the pack he wouldn’t suffer too much.
“This circuit is massively flat out with long straights, it’s as close to oval racing at you can get in Clios, so with only one team mate to tow with it was always going to be difficult to get right at the top of the timesheets, but putting one lap in and racing 20 other cars for 18 laps are completely separate things.
Holding 7th position at the start of race one, Epps set about moving forward, passing 4 cars in one lap early on, taking advantage of other incidents. By mid-distance he was battling Bradley Burns for the lead by the middle of the race, but was divebombed by another car into Brooklands, forcing him off the road and back down to 7th. A safety car and a few efforts in the final laps brought him back up to 5th by the flag, but Epps felt there was a win on the cards.
“That was a really good scrappy race to a point, everyone was close and it played into my hands nicely, but sadly not everyone in the pack was thinking ahead. We had a shot at a maiden win for the team there and a certain podium but a desparate move sent two of us about 20 metres of the circuit.”
Race two was set to be a cracker, with Epps starting P5 and confident of his pace the day before. On the first lap he was jostled back a place, but held position and set himself up to move forward. Sadly within a couple of laps it became apparent there was a problem, struggling with understeer and possibly then a lack of straight line speed. A race of attacking became a race of defence and he slipped down the order to 10th at the flag. A front left slow puncture was found to be the problem afterwards, with the tyre holding only half the air it should be.
“I’m frustrated by how things have gone”, commented Epps. “Yesterday we had a definite chance of a win going and it was smacked away from us by a silly move. Today, a random slow puncture, similar to one we had one at Donington earlier this year. That’s two potential podiums or even wins that we’ve missed out on, but never mind. We’ll go to Brands with hopefully even more improvements to the car and team and go for those results. I’m proud to have put in such a strong charge yesterday, especially with Matrix in their debut year.”
The final rounds of the UK Clio Cup Championship take place at Brands Hatch GP, Kent, on 29/30 September.