Another good showing at Oulton Park sees Matrix Motorsport well and truly in the mix
Press Information - 11th June 2018
Renault UK Clio Cup Rounds 7 & 8 - Team Race Report
Once again, the Matrix Motorsport team made its presence felt this weekend (8th & 9th June), when its four cars took part in rounds seven and eight of the 2018 Renault UK Clio Cup at Oulton Park. In both races the team’s lead driver Mike Epps battled with the front-runners setting lap times commensurate with the race winners, whilst Andy Wilmot, Jeff Alden and Aaron Thompson all overcame issues to continue the team’s 100% finishing record this season.
Friday's two 45-minute practice sessions began as planned, although during the second a broken bearing in Epps’s gearbox ended his day prematurely. After Ciceley Motorsport sportingly loaned a replacement unit, the Matrix technicians worked into the early hours to have the #37 Clio ready for Saturday morning.
Saturday dawned dry and overcast, which provided a welcome contrast to the scorching conditions at Thruxton three weeks ago. As it transpired, the change in temperatures made little difference to the team’s qualifying positions and the line up for the first race read: Epps P7, Wilmot P15, Thompson P16 and Alden P18.
Even starting from the fourth row, the team was confident that Epp’s pace could deliver a podium result if circumstances prevailed. In traditional Clio Cup style, the start of Saturday afternoon’s race was a hectic affair, with the field piling into the first corner - the right-hander of Old Hall - almost as one.
Whilst Epps was forced out of a couple of places, Thompson was to fair worse, exiting the bend on the grass and making contact with the barrier on the outside of the track. Thankfully the damage was only cosmetic and with a half-missing front bumper, the 19-year old was able to continue to finish 17th.
Wilmot and Alden managed to avoid the turn one excitement, with another solid drive from both to claim 14th and 17th positions respectively, although Alden’s progress was interrupted when he spun trying to get past Nicolas Hamilton at Cascades.
Meanwhile at the front end, Epps was clearly quicker than many of the cars ahead of him but, such is the nature of the circuit and the equality of the cars in the series, he was unable to get past until a daemon move going through the Hislops chicane on the final lap and moved him up a place and into eighth.
If Saturday’s race one was hotly contested, then Sunday’s race two was even more so - due to both the action and ambient temperature. Whilst Epps started one place lower than race one, the withdrawal of a fellow competitors saw the other three Matrix men start a place higher. All four got off to a flying start and climbed places as they exited the first corner, but - for all but Epps who was now seventh and embedded in the leading pack - everything changed in the second.
Contact between two cars caused Jade Edwards to spin into the barrier on the exit of Cascades, the impact pitching her car upside-down. Wilmot was just behind and amazingly, in-car footage showed him driving underneath Edwards’ Renault mid-flight. He also clipped the barrier - but not anywhere near as hard - and managed to get his #21 Clio back to the pits where the Matrix mechanics checked for damage and quickly changed the two front wheels before sending him on his way.
Alden also fell foul of the second corner and in a separate incident was tagged into a spin. The impact caused his left-front tyre to deflate and consequently he too, needed a hasty visit to the pits.
By now the Safety Car had been deployed and the race was put on hold for three laps while Edward’s car was recovered. When the green lights came on, Epps made up another place as he exited the first corner and went on to finish in a well earned sixth - again, setting lap times that were on the pace of the front-runners.
At the start of the race Thompson’s weekend looked like it was getting better, but the onset of gear selection issues meant for the final two-thirds he dropped back to 15th. Despite a vibration and off-set steering, Wilmot made the most of what he had and finished a credible 12th, whilst Alden also did the best he could following the pit stop and went on to score scored his highest finish so far in 14th.
Once again, the team enjoyed a positive weekend, overcoming a variety of challenges and putting even more experience under its belt. The outcome of the sees Epps now seventh in the Drivers’ standings and Matrix Motorsport fourth in the Team’s tables.
“I’m happy that we took a step forward this weekend. It was just frustrating that, although my fastest laps were quicker than many of the cars ahead of me, being where I was in the chain of cars it was difficult to get past and I had to constantly defend. There’s only tenths in it, so if I can get a better run in qualifying and start closer to the front of the grid, it won’t take much to improve the finishing position.”
“The first race went well and I’m just pleased that I managed to finish the second, as things could have been much worse bearing in mind how close I was to Jade when had her accident. Fortunately, I just clipped the barrier. The guys in the pits did a great job getting me back out so quickly, so I was able to catch the end up with the end of the pack behind the safety car and improve on my position, even with misaligned steering and vibration.”
“I really like Oulton Park and everything looked set for a great weekend, but being punted off in the first race and then having gear selection issues in the second, meant my weekend wasn’t anywhere close to what I had hoped for. It’s now a case of pressing the default button and seeing what we can do for the rest of the season.”
"It was another good weekend for the team and we made further progress with two excellent showings from Mike. From my side of things, I know I could have finished higher as my times on the clear laps were more competitive. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute on the track - and confirmed to me why I go racing!"
The next event in the 2018 Renault UK Clio Cup calendar takes place at Croft in North Yorkshire on 23rd/24th June and marks the series’ half-way point in the season.
Matrix Motorsport’s 2018 campaign is supported by: Old Cottage Beer Company, HVAC FM, De DATA, 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, CVL Group, The Wheel Specialist, Alpine Works and Davidsons Homes.
Matrix Motorsport has an association with race-winning BTCC team Power Maxed TAG Racing through its driver Senna Proctor.