Michael Epps bounced back from a nasty crash in qualifying to put in some promising race performances in the opening rounds of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Snetterton.
The BARC paddock faced a wet track for the two qualifying sessions on Saturday morning and with Epps having no experience in a Formula Renault in wet conditions previously, the 20 year old was slowly finding pace during the session as the times tumbled.
Unfortunately on his last lap in the session, Epps locked up at the first corner, running off circuit. As soon as he hit the grass, he was destined for the barriers and a big hit wrecked the front of his car. This meant he missed the second session, leaving him 25th on the grid for races two and three, having gone 15th fastest for race one before his crash.
The Race Drivers Inc. member said: “To be honest it shook me up a little bit. I braked a bit later, but got a little sideways and locked up the fronts I think. The car practically accelerated once I hit the grass and next thing I knew I had a tyre wall stuffed up in my face.”
A great job by his JWA-Avila team meant Epps car was ready for the first race that afternoon. Epps was hoping for a quick start to get him up the field, but Epps overheated his clutch and stalled on the line.
Epps explained: “I loaded the clutch a bit early, it suddenly engaged and I jumped forward before the lights had gone out. I tried to start it but I couldn't get the clutch to disengage and couldn't get it into neutral either.”
Eventually getting off the line, Epps was now dead last and a long way behind the back of the field. Epps charged on nevertheless and set lap times equal to those in the top ten as he worked his way through into the points in 19th.
The 2011 Formula Vee Vice-Champion commented: “I'm so annoyed with myself, this is the worst day I've had racing in ages, maybe ever. I just need to come back tomorrow and prove myself.”
The next day saw Epps get a good start to the second race, overtaking five cars through the opening two corners. Charging forwards, the Anytime Fitness-backed driver benefitted from incidents ahead to climb to 15th, but was soon stuck behind a stubborn rival, with Epps feeling he was blocking him dangerously. Epps couldn't find a way past and finished 15th.
Epps said: “I didn't want any more damage, he was weaving all over the track and I just couldn't get alongside. I probably could've made a few more places if it wasn't for that.”
The drivers were greeted with heavy rain prior to the last race, but Epps coped with the conditions well to produce another blinding start, getting past a few cars on the first lap. Epps was quickly through to 15th and after making up a gap to the bunch of cars ahead, Epps worked his way past two more to finish 13th. The tough start leaves Epps lying 15th in the championship, but with a total of 28 overtakes during the 3 races, Epps is happy with the potential he's shown.
Epps concluded: “I'm pleased with the results considering my starting positions. I need a good qualifying next time, it's so important. I'm really gutted about Saturday, but a fair few others had their own problems today so I'm sure it'll all even out soon.”