Michael Epps endured a challenging weekend during Rounds Four and Five of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Rockingham.
The 20 year old headed to the Corby-based circuit with no previous racing experience on the track, meaning track time was vital in practice and qualifying. Qualifying didn't go to plan for Epps though, with both wet sessions blighted by a spate of red flags, with just three laps in each session leaving the Hemel Hempstead-based driver eighteenth and fifteenth on the two grids.
Epps said: “It was fairly treacherous conditions to be honest; there was just the right amount of standing water on track to make the cars float around a little but at the same time it was greasy around certain sections. I got a lot more out of the car in the second session.”
A dry opening race saw Epps involved in a mighty scrap in the midfield throughout. Changing positions almost every lap, Epps gave a good demonstration of his race craft as he pulled off some good overtakes to work himself up to a fifteenth place finish in the highly competitive field.
Anytime Fitness-backed Epps commented: “I got a good start and had a fair run into the first corner and was doing alright, and then a car came out of nowhere mid-corner and forced me a bit wide. It was a bit of a dogfight for the first couple of laps and then I started to come back through so I'd actually lost places and then gained them back on the first lap so I was in the place I'd started at the end of the first lap. I got through a couple of them lap by lap but we were all quite similarly paced and I was also being taken back a couple of times as well. My pace wasn't quite there to charge through, if I'd started higher up it would have been a much better race. Looking at the actual experiences during the race I'd say the result is okay and that I drove pretty much the best I could have done.”
Epps started fifteenth for the second race and had high hopes for a good performance. A good getaway went all wrong at the first corner though, where Epps was hit hard from behind and spun around.
Epps explained: “Coming out of the hairpin all the cars scattered on the exit and I got tagged at the rear by one of them.”
Dropped to the very back of the field, the JWA-Avila driver quickly set about catching the pack and managed to make a couple of clean overtakes. Benefitting from the retirements of some rivals ahead, Epps managed to work his way up from 28th to 21st by the chequered flag, just missing out on a top twenty finish and some championship points.
Thruxton is the scene of the next two rounds of the championship and Epps aims to bounce back from this weekend at the high-speed Hampshire circuit. Epps concluded: “I should be more comfortable there. The aim is to improve on the pace we've had here and push further towards the front.”