15/05/2018

Epps full of praise for Clio Cup as he eyes Thruxton podiums

Michael Epps says he “would strongly advise” racing in the Renault UK Clio Cup for drivers aspiring to be on the British Touring Car Championship grid after himself moving into the category from the BTCC.
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Epps has been highly impressed by a number of factors in the Clio Cup and points to the race craft it teaches budding touring car drivers and the very obvious exposure it also brings.

He said: “My ambition is to be back in the BTCC and I did look at four or five options but Clio Cup really stood out. The publicity it receives… let alone the live coverage on mainstream TV (ITV4), I’m also still effectively in the same paddock – the sphere I want to be in – and if you do well in Clio Cup then you know that most of the BTCC teams are watching that.

“The racing is very similar. The cars are also very robust which allows you to circulate closely with a bit of rubbing but without eliminating yourself. It’s as close as you can get to touring cars without doing touring cars.

“In some areas they are also more technically advanced with a modernised dash with lots of info, the paddle shift gear system and other mod cons. It’s a fun car to drive – very rewarding.

“You also learn other tricks that come in handy in BTCC like working with other drivers to drop the guys behind or catch those in front. It really gives you the race craft.”

He added: “I would strongly advise it. It’s more competitive than most hatchback series and is certainly the most highly rated.

“There’s more simplicity when it comes to set-up parameters, plus it’s not going to dent your budget too much when you consider what else there is out there that you could be spending your money on.

“The cars are meticulously maintained in terms of scrutineering and ensuring parity. It means you can draw comparisons between the other teams and drivers because you know it’s very fair.”

Epps has joined the new Matrix Motorsport team for his first crack at the Clio Cup. It has forged a relationship with BTCC team PMR whose two drivers – Senna Proctor and Josh Cook – have both come from the Clio Cup. Already in 2018, each has celebrated a maiden race win in the BTCC.

Epps continued: “I raced against Proctor in his rookie year in the BTCC – he wasn’t overly pushy but did put his elbows out in the right way and he’d got that from the Clio Cup. He put a move on you and you couldn’t get him back. Clios had given him that race craft whether on the defensive or on the attack.”

Heading to Thruxton this coming weekend, Epps lies seventh in the Clio Cup standings and fancies his chances soon of a first podium result.

“I hope think we can come back a bit at the others at Thruxton,” he said: “It is highly competitive out there and course we don’t have the data the other teams have built up over the years.

“But if we can continue progressing like we are then I am going for the title or certainly the top three.

“Donington last time out was a set of circumstances that held us back whereas at Thruxton it’s possible to qualify on the fifth row and still come through.

“Obviously though we have a very good tie with PMR and with everything else the Clio Cup gives you then I see my current situation as a useful springboard to help me leap back into the BTCC.”