POSITIVE SEASON FINALE LIFTS EPTON INTO CHAMPIONSHIP TOP DOZEN David Epton has ended the 2006 Formula Renault UK Championship season finale at Silverstone National Circuit 12th overall in the driver standings following a brace of highly ...
POSITIVE SEASON FINALE LIFTS EPTON INTO CHAMPIONSHIP TOP DOZEN
David Epton has ended the 2006 Formula Renault UK Championship season finale at Silverstone National Circuit 12th overall in the driver standings following a brace of highly competitive performances on Sunday.
Arriving at the Northamptonshire venue 14th in the championship, the 25-year-old from Preston In Lancashire aimed to conclude his season of Formula Renault UK action with a brace of successful outings -- and he didn't disappoint.
Supported this year by Bombardier Learjet, Universal Weather & Aviation Inc and Jet Air International Lebanon & Germany, David impressed at the 1.64-mile National Circuit in official testing back in August but during Saturday's pair of qualifying sessions, his car lacked the necessary rear-end grip for him to make the impression he wanted to.
For Round 19, the Scorpio Motorsport star would begin from a lower than expected 15th on the grid while for Round 20 David would benefit from an improved slot of 12th place, although he knew making up positions in the races would be very tough.
With a number of sponsors and guests at Silverstone to cheer-on the former Hampshire resident, David made a terrific start to the first of Sunday's races and managed to move up from 15th place to ninth position on the opening lap alone with a series of excellent overtaking manoeuvres.
Having dispatched Joao Vasconcelos off the line, David quickly passed Daniel Roos and Peter Rees into Copse Corner before then moving ahead of James Sutton on the run towards Becketts for the first time.
Turning into the National Straight, David had Markus Niemela tucked-up behind him and as the two cars caught Jeremy Metcalfe, the Finn moved to the inside of Metcalfe with David choosing to move to the outside.
Running side-by-side with Niemela through the Luffield section of the complex, the race action was soon halted as the Safety Car boards appeared following an incident between several cars at Becketts on the opening lap.
After the re-start, the top 10 drivers remained in their positions for the remainder of the new 24-lap race distance with David eventually crossing the line in a highly creditable ninth place and with a fastest race lap just three 10ths of a second shy of the quickest lap set by victor Patrick Hogan.
For the final race of the championship, David was looking to make another good getaway from 10th on the grid and although not enjoying the best of starts, he still went on to gain places and finish in eighth position.
The Scorpio ace explained: "I didn't actually get away well, (Fabio) Onidi jumped the start so then I followed him and Niemela until we arrived at Brooklands but I thought it was getting quite tight with Dean Smith there as well, so I backed off a bit.
"It paid off though as all three of them went to the left and took each other out so I moved through to eighth place. I thought I had a chance of passing Cheng (Cong Fu) early on but then during the last six or seven laps his car came on very strong and he started to pull away from me."
David added: "After all the non-finishes of the recent rounds, it's good to take back-to-back results inside the top 10 and to also know we were quick. It's been a good season in many ways, overall I think I'm driving better than I ever have done but a lot of bad luck and non-finishes have blunted our campaign.
"We obviously missed the opening two races of the season so that put us at a disadvantage but I'm not too sure we had the quickest car out there anyway. When we did hook everything up we were quick but there were too many times when the car wasn't fast enough unfortunately, especially in qualifying."
With the 2006 Formula Renault UK Championship now completed, David is looking ahead to bigger challenges with an eye on European competition next season in a category such as the World Series by Renault.
That said, he is not discounting the chance of perhaps racing in North America in Champ Car Atlantic so over the coming weeks and months there will be a lot of discussions with his sponsors as they look to establish a testing timetable ahead of 2007.
"This has been a valuable season in terms of improving my competitiveness and my technical ability", commented David, "I have certainly moved up a level this year and I'm hopeful we can build on what we have learned and move on to something like World Series by Renault.
"I like to think I have a smooth driving style which would suit the World Series cars plus, it'd be great to get back in a car with more power. Having run well in Formula Palmer Audi last year in 300bhp-plus cars, I don't think the step up to 425bhp in World Series would be too great. Hopefully we'll have news about our plans soon."
The final two races of the 2006 Formula Renault UK Championship season, which were broadcast live on Motors TV yesterday, will be replayed in full tomorrow morning, Tuesday, 17th October, starting at 07.00. Motors TV is available to Sky Digital viewers on channel 413 and via the NTL cable service on channel 545.