Impressive debut weekend for Matrix Motorsport
Press Information - 9th April 2018
Renault UK Clio Cup Rounds 1 & 2 - TEAM RACE REPORTS
For the four-car Matrix Motorsport team, an impressive sixth and fourth places respectively in the opening two rounds of this weekend’s Renault UK Clio Cup at Brands Hatch saw Mike Epps claim third in the drivers’ standings. It was a result that, together with performances by the team’s three other drivers: Andy Wilmot, Aaron Thompson and Jeff Alden, also meant Matrix Motorsport came away from the event lying third in the teams’ standings.
After many months of preparation, Matrix Motorsport went to Brands Hatch with high hopes, albeit tempered with realistic expectations. With its four cars all displaying identical colour schemes the team certainly made its presence felt in the TOCA support-race paddock and consequently, attracted a considerable amount of attention from the public and media.
The on-track action began on Friday with two, 45-minute practice sessions; one in the morning and another in the afternoon, where the four Matrix Motorsport drivers took the opportunity to shake down their cars together with the other 15 contenders that make up the 2018 Clio Cup grid. The day also saw the team in action off-track too, when it provided current and potential sponsors with a day of corporate hospitality.
Saturday’s itinerary included a 30-minute qualifying session at lunchtime followed by the first of the weekend’s two, 20-lap races later in the afternoon. Whilst the atmosphere within the team was decidedly upbeat, there was no hiding the air of anticipation, as the day would mark the first ever taste of competition for Matrix Motorsport.
In typical Clio Cup tradition, qualifying signalled just how close the competition is going to be this season, when just over three-tenths-of-a-second covered the top ten places. Leading the Matrix charge was Epps, who was a slender 0.305s off pole position and eighth fastest. Next came Andy Wilmot who was still becoming acclimatised to his car in16th, ahead of Thompson in 18th and Alden in 19th, who suffered fuel starvation issues and two punctures respectively.
Excitement in the Matrix Motorsport camp became even more intense before the start of the first race. After a clean getaway by the orange, blue and yellow liveried quartet, the race was brought to a temporary halt while a fellow competitor's upside-down Clio was recovered from the exit of Druids Hairpin. Following the restart, Epps involved himself in a series of battles and at one point climbed as high as fourth, only to be pushed onto the grass at Graham Hill Bend and subsequently, he ended the race in sixth.
Wilmot was the next highest Matrix finsher and, after a solid drive and keeping out of trouble, finished a well-earned 14th. In the early stages, Aaron Thompson battled his way into the top ten, but the return of the earlier fuel starvation problem meant he ended the day a frustrated 16th. But probably the happiest of the Matrix drivers was team principal Jeff Alden, who had survived a couple of spins and finished his first ever Clio Cup race in 17th.
Round two took place at Sunday lunchtime in between rounds one and two of the MSA British Touring Car Championship and therefore under the gaze of the huge crowds that lined the perimeter of the 1.208-mile Indy circuit. In contrast to the first Clio Cup race, Sunday’s 20-lap affair was held in wet conditions - a preferred scenario for Epps who was to start from P9 on this occasion. His strategy to pressurise those in front of him and then slip by the moment they hesitated worked well and, following a perfectly executed race, he crossed the line in fourth and only a fraction of a second from claiming a podium position.
Following a few sideways moments in the opening laps, another positive performance by Wilmot rewarded him with13th place. But for Thompson the frustrations continued: after an excellent start and briefly getting into the top ten, he was repeatedly 'tapped' by other competitors, the physical contact causing the 18-year old to spin on three consecutive laps. The resulting delays - and then locking front brakes - meant he ended the race in 16th - one place ahead of Alden who again did well to cope with spins in the slippery early stages.
Matrix Motorsport experienced further success at the weekend and would like to congratulate its BTCC partner driver Senna Proctor and his team Power Maxed Racing for scoring their first ever outright victory in round two of the MSA British Touring Car Championship on Sunday.
The team now prepares for rounds three and four of the 2018 Renault UK Clio Cup, which take place at Donington Park on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th April.
“Third in the championship is a strong position to be in at this point in the season, especially as I know the team can achieve even greater things. It was good to start from ninth and finish fourth in race two. The wet conditions definitely helped and I was pleased to be able to put on a good show for the crowds. I’m now looking forward to Donington and must admit that I wouldn’t be disappointed if it rains again!”
“I opted for a fairly steady start to both races to judge where I need to be in terms of pace. For me, round two felt better than the first, even in the wet conditions. I could feel the times getting better lap-by-lap as I started to reel in the cars ahead of me. With Mike and the team third in the championship standings, it’s been a great first weekend for Matrix Motorsport and I’m delighted to be part of it."
"The first race was frustrating because of the fuel feed issues and then, having fixed that, it was the contact from other competitors that made the second race even more difficult. But the up side is being part the fantastic Matrix Motorsport team. Mike’s performance showed that we can get a car to the front of the field, but unfortunately that didn’t happen for me this time. I’ll now just have to wait until Donington to do that!”
Jeff Alden (Team Principal)
“All things considered, I think we’ve had a stunning debut weekend. The team worked brilliantly and I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved. To end the weekend third in the drivers’ and teams’ standings added to the exposure we gained from our four cars, Mike’s impressive performance and Senna’s BTCC win, we couldn’t have asked for a lot more. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the driving too. It was an excellent weekend all round and I have to thank the team for all their efforts.”
Matrix Motorsport’s 2018 campaign is supported by: Old Cottage Beer Company, Nexus Consultancy Services, Ortu Solutions, Inspired Business Media, First Plumbing and Heating, East Midlands Civil Engineering, ACCL. KD Group, Simply Race, Anytime Fitness, SDT Contracts, Boxo, East Midlands Forklifts, SAS Energy, Spearmint Rhino, This Week in FM and CVL Group. The team has an association with BTCC Driver Senna Proctor and his team Power Maxed Racing.