EPTON UNDERLINES HIS QUALITY DURING SEASON FINALE Thruxton specialist David Epton signed-off his Formula Renault UK career with a brace of typically strong raceday performances yesterday, Sunday, 14th October, top eight and top nine results ...
EPTON UNDERLINES HIS QUALITY DURING SEASON FINALE
Thruxton specialist David Epton signed-off his Formula Renault UK career with a brace of typically strong raceday performances yesterday, Sunday, 14th October, top eight and top nine results helping secure the Apotex Scorpio Motorsport team its highest ever placing in the entrant standings.
With a move into sportscar racing expected for the 26-year-old in 2008, subject to acquiring the necessary budget of course, David hoped to bring the curtain down on his final season in single-seaters with a podium finish this weekend and although not quite able to achieve his dream, he did further underline his quality as an out-and-out racer.
Having taken part in just six of the 10 race meetings this year, David clearly hasn't enjoyed the same level of continuity in his car as his front-running rivals but his ability and racecraft shone through on Sunday with two sparkling efforts.
Although the Round 19 qualifying session on Saturday morning saw the Preston-based racer struggle with the handling of his car before ending the run with the 14th fastest time, changes ahead of the Round 20 session enabled him to produce a season's best performance with an excellent 6th fastest time, just half a second shy of pole position.
As high as fourth quickest with just five minutes remaining, David eventually took a third row start for his final race in a Formula Renault UK car after posting a lap of 1m 11.075 seconds (119.33mph).
Beginning the first of the weekend's races on row seven, the BAE Systems accountant knew a top 10 finish would be a terrific result but he managed even better than that with a fighting eighth position which ultimately helped Loughborough-based Apotex Scorpio to take third place in the entrant standings by just a single point.
Having been forced onto the grass at 130mph at Goodwood and then receiving similarly robust attention at Church, David unfortunately slipped to 16th position on the opening lap but he mounted a stirring recovery which saw his undoubted racecraft shine through.
After a three-lap Safety Car period, racing resumed on lap nine and David immediately began to make an impression on the cars ahead. Passing Chris Holmes and Ryuji Yamamoto in quick succession, the Honeywell Aerospace-backed ace also benefited like his rivals from a collision at the front between cousins Riki and Adam Christodoulou.
Carving his way through the order, the former Hampshire resident passed Alex Morgan late-on and also moved ahead of Richard Singleton for ninth before the finish. The subsequent exclusion of Adriano Buzaid for a technical infringement then enabled David to claim a deserved top-eight finish.
During the last race of the season, Round 20, David started ahead of Apotex Scorpio team-mate Will Bratt having out-qualified him by a mere 1,000th of a second but it was the latter who managed to edge ahead on lap one.
Embroiled in a close and entertaining battle with Bratt and Jeremy Metcalfe, David emerged in the middle of the trio at the end of lap three but was then forced back to ninth during the next tour. For the remainder, struggling somewhat with straight-line speed, David had to focus on defending ninth position which he did to the finish.
Reflecting on his final weekend in Formula Renault UK, David said: "The first qualifying session was very disappointing, the car wouldn't handle well at all but we made some changes for the second session and it was much better to drive. We still couldn't get the set-up we wanted but sixth was pretty good.
"In the first race I had quite a moment at Goodwood when (Chris) Holmes forced me onto the grass and after similar attentions from (Ryuji) Yamamoto at Church I had a lot of work to do. We managed to pick off quite a few places though and I think eighth in the end from 14th on the grid was as good a result as we could have hoped for."
He continued: "In the second race it was noticeable we lacked pace on the straights, the car felt pretty good in the complex and at the chicane but it was hard work keeping cars behind in the fast section. Nonetheless, I'm fairly happy to take a pair of top 10 finishes away on our final weekend in the championship.
"It's been good working with the guys at Apotex Scorpio, we've known each other a long time and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them for everything. We'll definitely stay in contact but from the point of view of my racing career, sportscars is the aim for 2008."