Mike Epps had a strong weekend in the final rounds of the UK Renault Clio Cup at Brands Hatch GP, but, like the previous rounds at Silverstone, didn’t quite have results to show for his performance after unfortunate contact knocked him down the order. However, he remained positive of both himself and the Matrix Motorsport team’s strength and development throughout the year and for future seasons to come.
Finishing off his first season in Clio Cup within the brand new Matrix Clio Cup squad, with the help of principle Jeff Alden, the Hemel Hempstead racer was eyeing up maiden race wins for himself and the team, and in Sunday’s race (aired live on ITV4) he looked set to challenge for one.
A frustrating first race preceded that on Saturday, having qualified 9th on the grid just tenths of a second away from the leaders with no-one to help him gain an ever important slipstream on his best laps, he was run off the circuit and through the gravel on the first lap by another driver, forced to pit for repairs. Luckily a safety car had been called out for another incident and Epps was just able to get back out on the lead lap and catch the back of the pack. When the race restarted he amazingly scythed through to 12th place in just under 3 race laps before another two car incident and red flag ended the race, putting him 10th in the results.
Sunday’s Race 2 was an exciting and unpredictable encounter. Epps vaulted from 8th to 5th place by the first corner with a great launch off the line and set about moving forward. With a mistake from the two ahead, he quickly moved to 3rd place on lap two and a lap later made an incredible pass on Championship contender Max Coates for 2nd with two wheels on the grass heading into the blind right-hander, Sheene. A safety car period a few laps later allowed him to close right up to race leader James Dorlin. Once the race had restarted he stayed with Dorlin to break away from the pack behind, aiming to challenge for the lead right at the end of the race, but another long safety car period meant the pack was closed up again close to the finish. Epps didn’t have the best of restarts and was unceremoniously pushed wide at Druids hairpin dropping him right down to 7th place with very little time left. The remaining two laps became a dog fight between him and several others, with him only able to move forward to 6th by the finish line.
This left Mike a very respectable 6th place in the Championship standings with multiple race winners Bradley Burns and Dan Rowbottom, multiple champion Paul Rivett, Max Coates and new-ly crowned 2018 Champion James Dorlin above him.
“It was one of those races really”, commented Epps. “A bit like my season in fact, some great performances but luck playing against us. I was so after that win but I was also in the middle of a Championship battle in the final race and it was bound to get a little bit rough.”
“What a performance though for Matrix. These guys started last Winter with a couple of Clios, not really any set up info or data and considerably less experience than the top teams around us, and we’ve brought the fight right to them, challenging for wins at the last three weekends consistently in all weather conditions. They would now have to be considered a potential winning team next year and in 12 months from scratch that’s an incredible achievement for all.”
“I do wish we could’ve found this performance earlier in the season, but I’ve taken a lot more satisfaction from being an integral part of a new team’s progress and results. The teams around us in the standings have been doing this successfully for years and years.”
“I’ve enjoyed my season in Clio Cup with these guys and girls immensely and hard work towards the future continues on from tomorrow. I’d like to thank the team, team sponsors, my partners Simply Race, Whitemoss Pharmacy, Anytime Fitness and all the supporters for their help this year and look forward to building on this.”
Another benefit for Matrix and Epps is the top 6 in the UK Clio Cup Championship are invited out to the International Renault Clio Cup Finals, a prestigious event where the world's best from each championship all join at Paul Ricard to fight for the overall win and the prize of a brand new 280hp Megane Renault Sport. The event takes place on 3rd/4th November.
Epps continues to search for supporters and partners to join him and the team’s network, sponsorship and business enquiries can be made via Mike’s website (mikeepps.co.uk) or his social media channels (Twitter, Instagram & Facebook) - @EppsRacer.