Former Protyre Formula Renault Championship racer Michael Epps will make an unexpected and very welcome eleventh hour return to action in the category during this weekend’s 2014 season finale at Silverstone, having agreed a late deal with SWB Motorsport.
Hemel Hempstead-based Epps has been on the racing sidelines for the past six months after visa issues in the USA prevented him from contesting a planned season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – off the back of becoming Vice-Champion in the USF2000 Winterfest.
Epps travelled Stateside in 2013 to continue his progression in single-seater racing after a year in Protyre Formula Renault, but due to the problems which surfaced with his US visa the 22-year-old had to return home to the UK where he has since “dropped back to ordinary life”.
“I haven’t been doing a lot at all since the visa problems in the States, I haven’t been in a car for six months or so since I raced in the Winterfest”, explained Epps, “Simon [Baldry – SWB team principal] got in touch at the last minute and with the TV coverage this weekend, plus I’ve missed racing in Renault, I thought it was a great opportunity to come back and have a go.
“The last time I raced in the main championship was at this same meeting at Silverstone two years ago, I got a season-best fourth place there with JWA-Avila on the Saturday. If I can at least try and replicate that I’ll be pretty happy.”
Advised by Martyn Pott of P1 Sports, and running with support from Grand Prix Racewear and Anytime Fitness, Epps – who away from the track is a professional musician – is keeping his options open for 2015 and beyond but hasn’t ruled out a return to Formula Renault in Britain.
“This is a one-off for now but a great way to get things moving again, to get the promotion going that I’m back racing”, he added, “I’m really looking forward to being back in a British paddock again, I’ve changed a lot since I was last in Formula Renault and I learnt a lot in the States too, so it’ll be nice to try and bring some of that into play at the weekend.”
Prior to his first stint in Protyre Formula Renault a couple of years ago, which also included a run in the 2012 Winter Series, the half British-half Kiwi racer was the 2011 Formula Vee Vice-Champion and he also enjoyed a highly successful karting career in Rotax Max Junior and Senior.
His arrival back into Protyre Formula Renault for rounds 14 and 15, which will run this weekend as support to the British Touring Car Championship, brings SWB Motorsport back up to a two car entry with the category returnee teaming-up with season regular Jack Butel (Jersey).
Epps’ first run in an FR 2.0 Tatuus for two full years will come during pre-event testing at Silverstone tomorrow, Friday, 26th September. Qualifying for the weekend’s two races takes place on Saturday, 27th September, at 10.25 and 13.50 with the first encounter following at 17.05
The final round of the championship will begin at 13.45 on Sunday, 28th September, and will be screened live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD with live streaming online at www.itv.com/btcc
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault is additionally supported by Michelin.