Mixed emotions for Epps at championship opener

Michael Epps at Brands Hatch
Michael Epps at Brands Hatch

Formula Renault BARC front-runner Michael Epps had a weekend of mixed fortunes at the Winter Championship opener at Brands Hatch.

In front of a big crowd, the Hemel man showed his potential as he raced to another top-four finish in race one, but suffered mechanical issues in Sunday’s race while heading for another good points score.

Michael Epps

Michael Epps

After two qualifying races in changeable conditions, Epps eventually started in eighth place on the grid for race one.

Epps got a good launch and made two places on the first lap, before pushing hard to chase the drivers in front of him.

Half way through the race, leader Matt Mason made and error, and Epps eventually finished in fourth place despite a slow front-left puncture

“The tyre had only a quarter of the pressure the others did by the end”, said Epps. “I’m glad it didn’t happen any earlier.”

Pouring rain greeted the 30,000 fans in the Paddock on Sunday for race two, with Epps starting in seventh position.

With Epps having held his position up to the third corner, USA Scholarship driver Matthew Brabham and Hongwei Cao both spun out, gifting the Hemel man fifth place.

He then chased towards Jack Aitken in fourth, but struggled to match his pace and began to lose ground.

Up ahead, leader Seb Morris overshot turn four and gifted Epps fourth place. Anytime Fitness-backed Epps was now looking good for a strong finish but, heading into Druids hairpin on the final lap, he lost all drive and was forced out of the race.

“I went for second gear on the way in and the revs dropped to idling speed,” he said. “None of the gears worked.”

Without the set-back, Epps would currently be sitting third in the Winter Championship standings, but instead now lies in 10th place going into the final races at Rockingham in three weeks’ time.

“I’m gutted by the result, but I think it’s fair to say that we put in a great performance,” said Epps. “We were strong in dry weather, and getting closer and closer in the wet.

“It’s definitely the strongest weekend I’ve had so far in this class. Now on to Rockingham where I think a spot of damage limitation may take place.”