Hemel Hempstead’s Michael Epps raced to a top-five finish at the Cooper Tyres USF2000 Championship double-header at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
With the 2013 USF2000 Championship season drawing to close, Epps was looking to close out his inaugural season of racing in North America with some strong results.
As planned, the opening three test sessions on Friday were spent getting familiar with the 2,238-mile track and it vast elevation changes, as well as fine tuning the handling of the car.
And the 21 year-old got off to an excellent start one day later, recording the sixth-best time in a morning practice run.
Epps remained part of the lead pack in the subsequent qualifying session, securing a row four starting position with the eighth-quickest lap.
Rolling back on-course for Round 11, Epps was aware that getting a good launch when the green flag waved was key and he expertly manoeuvred his Belardi Auto Racing entry into fourth by the exit of the turn one hairpin.
While initially able to hold the position, it quickly became apparent that No. 44 racer was not quite right, with a lack of straight-line speed not only preventing Epps from making further forward progress, but also resulting in increasing pressure from behind.
Epps in the end was unable to retain his place, taking the checkered flag in a hard fought fifth position.
Returning to the driver’s seat one day later, Epps lined-up 11th, but his race came an abrupt halt due to a broken differential – the likely cause of his loss of speed in race one as well.
“To leave Laguna Seca with a top-five and having shown good speed, given where we started the weekend is a good result,” said Epps.
“It’s a track I’ve wanted to race at since the start of my career. Now I’m focused on Houston and ending the season with a trip to the podium.”