Rounds Eight and Nine of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship proved to be another mixed affair for Michael Epps, who overcame a blown engine in qualifying to record his best finish so far in the series.
Problems struck Epps very early in the weekend, with his first qualifying session being cut short on only the third lap after the engine died.
Epps said: “I cut it off pretty much straight away, there was no way that would get back to the pits, it already sounded very rough before I even got to switching it off. It was the first lap I’d really pushed it as well!”
The engine was blown, with much of its insides scattered all around the car. Despite the JWA-Avila teams hard work, it couldn’t be fixed in time for the second qualifying session, leaving Anytime Fitness-backed Epps 19th on the grid for race one and dead last for race two.
With the engine fixed for the next days races, Epps was able to take his position on the tenth row of the grid. Starting well, the former Formula Vee race-winner began picking his way through the field and worked his way up into tenth position, his first top-ten finish in the competitive single-seater series and his team’s best finish in the series.
“I’m pretty happy that I could get that far up, and it was from 19th place! Now all we need to do is start 10th or better and we are laughing,” he commented.
Epps was upbeat going into the second race despite starting last, but once again his terrible luck was to strike again. After passing five cars on the opening lap, Epps was left with nowhere to go when someone spun in front of him, contact with the spinning car ending his race.
“Everyone seemed to bunch up and slow down, it was like the first lap again. The guy ahead of me braked quite a lot later than those ahead and ended up hitting one of them and flying off track. I was on the outside of him and had nowhere to go really except into the gravel, which is where my race ended pretty quickly. I wish I had stayed right instead of going left, but what can you do,” said Epps.
Despite the host of bad luck this year, Epps is confident with the strong pace showed at Croft and is hoping for top tens and more in the last five races of the season.
Epps added: “I’ve had so much rubbish luck this year, not one weekend has gone right yet. The next one is at Donington, and last time I was there I had a double win in Formula Vee last year, so I’ll naturally have more confidence again heading back there.
“We just need to get qualifying right, I was on for a good position this time but then the car let me down. I guess that’s just how things can go.”