Hemel racing driver Mike Epps has provided his race team Matrix Motorsport with their first-ever podium result.
Epps finished in third place in round 11 of the Renault UK Clio Cup at Snetterton, Norfolk, on Sunday, an outcome the team has been aiming for all season.
Epps, who was born in New Zealand and now lives in Hemel Hempstead, said afterwards: “Everyone in the team has worked hard to get to where we are, so it was great to be able to score the first top-three result for Matrix Motorsport.
“I enjoyed the first race [round 11]. The conditions were difficult and I like the challenge that brings.
“The second race [round 12] was disappointing, as an early contact meant I went backwards rather than forwards. However, we have shown what’s achievable and I know there’s more to come.”
The weather conditions made for a challenging weekend. While Friday’s two practice sessions were held in the hot and sunny conditions that the UK has become accustomed to this summer, Saturday’s qualifying session was decidedly cooler for the four-car Matrix team.
Epps qualified in an uncharacteristic 13th place having slipped off and clipping a barrier which damaged his car’s suspension. .
Torrential rain came overnight on Saturday but this subsided by race day on Sunday as the grid of 23 cars gathered for the first of the day’s two races. Grey clouds also gathered in the skies and with just a few minutes before the cars were released, rain started to fall, provoking a spell of rapid tyre-changing by the crews.
In true Clio Cup tradition, the first few hundred metres of the first race were a frantic affair and with cars around them losing traction and some spinning on the wet and slippery surface, Epps made the most of his rivals’ misdemeanours and ended the first lap in ninth.
After a series of impressive overtaking moves, Epps continued his charge towards the front of the field and started the last lap in fourth.
Matrix team-mate Ash Hand managed to get past Epps on the start/finish straight and then moved up to second later in the lap.
But following the race he was given a time penalty for an infringement when passing another competitor and was consequently re-classified in sixth. This change meant Epps was reinstated into third to make history for the team by recording its first podium.
With the rain halting at lunchtime and wind picking up, by the time cars left the collecting area for the second race [round 12] the three-mile configuration of the track was bone dry. But as cars got within sight of the grid at the end of the formation lap the heavens opened again, leaving organisers no choice but to declare another wet race. Again, teams frantically worked on their cars, swapping slicks for wets.
In contrast to the first race, Epps was compromised early in the opening lap when another competitor ran up the back of him, the impact affecting the car’s handling.
The same turn of fate also He did all he could to hold off the advances of others and ended the ensuing nine laps in 14th place.
After the weekend’s results, Epps is now in sixth place in the drivers’ championship while Matrix are in fourth in the team standings.
Next up will be rounds 13 and 14 of the cup on August 11-12 at Rockingham in Northants.