Hemel racing driver Mike Epps was able to secure a fifth place finish in the second of the races in the latest round of the Renault UK Clio Cup at Thruxton.
In contrast with the previous two rounds of the Clio Cup at Donington Park three weeks ago, the weather for rounds five and six at Thruxton, in Hampshire, the previous weekend could not have been more different, with unbroken sunshine throughout the two-day meeting.
For Matrix Motorsport, lead driver Epps’ fifth place in the second of last Sunday’s two races also signified a shining example of the contrast between the events, with the team’s three other drivers, Aaron Thompson, Andy Wilmot and Jeff Alden all improving on their positions from that of Donington.
Saturday’s qualifying provided a challenge for all the teams, due to the hot temperatures, the abrasiveness of the 3.793-miles of Thruxton’s asphalt and the high average speed of the circuit.
Even so, the lap times were close, with just 0.6 seconds separating the top 10 drivers.
All four Matrix men said they were unable to get a clear run and consequently, the starting positions for the two races were as good as they could have hoped for with Epps in ninth for the first race and sixth for the second.
The hot weather continued into Sunday and the Renault Clios kicked off the day’s action after championship organisers had reduced both races from 12 to nine laps in order to avoid any issues caused by the even hotter conditions.
A solid performance from the Matrix drivers saw all four battling to make up places at during the opening race and, following a strong showing, Epps was able to finish in ninth.
Epps started sixth on the grid for the second of the two races and hopes were high in the Matrix camp for a top result. Having made up two places by the time the pack reached the second corner, it was clear the potential was there to do so.
However, with drafting such an important part of race strategy on the circuit’s long straights, Epps was passed by a closely following rival.
But, before he had the chance to overturn the situation, red flags were deployed due to a coming together of two other cars at the start of lap eight.
Consequently the race was brought to a premature end, resulting in Epps being classified in fifth.
Epps said: “After this performance it’s clear that we’re getting there.
“Fifth is good, but I know there’s more to come and it wouldn’t take much as I was able to stay in contention with the leading four cars and had started to reel them in during the latter stages of the race.
“Thruxton is a track that emphasizes differences in performance, so I think [the next rounds at] Oulton Park could be a very different matter for us.”
Epps is now in sixth place in the overall drivers’ standings while his Matrix outfit are in fourth position in the team standings
The next races are at Oulton Park in Cheshire on the weekend of June 9-10.