EPTON MAKES WELCOME TOP SIX RETURN AT DONINGTON David Epton produced his fourth top six finish of the Formula Renault UK season at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, 10th September, following a highly competitive run in an...
EPTON MAKES WELCOME TOP SIX RETURN AT DONINGTON
David Epton produced his fourth top six finish of the Formula Renault UK season at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, 10th September, following a highly competitive run in an action-packed 15th round of the season.
The 25-year-old, who is sponsored by Bombardier Learjet, Universal Weather & Aviation Inc and Jet Air International Lebanon & Germany, qualified for the first of the weekend's races with the eighth fastest time, just a couple of 10ths of a second shy of the second row on the grid.
Ahead of Round 15, the Preston resident was confident of challenging for a top six result while also aiming to remain in contention for the prestigious Donington Park Racing Association Club (DPRAC) Cup and at the start he made a good getaway, somehow managing to avoid a spinning Patrick Hogan in the middle of the circuit.
Working wonders to avoid Hogan's car, David immediately picked up a position and as the field headed to Redgate Corner he elected to move to the outside of Cheng Cong Fu in a bid to move into the top six quickly.
As the cars hurtled towards the Old Hairpin, Cheng managed to hold on to the position before his team-mate Franck Mailleux pushed David back to eighth place. Soon after, Mailleux and James Sutton had a coming together which allowed David to move into sixth place but he then became embroiled in a tough battle with Dean Smith.
Trading positions during the middle part of the race, and with fifth-placed Markus Niemela defending vigorously, the Smith and Epton battle for sixth spot was soon joined by David's Scorpio Motorsport team-mate Will Bratt. But with Niemela and Smith both defending very forcefully, David had to be content with seventh at the flag.
However, following the collision between Hohenthal and Hogan on the opening lap, the Clerk of the Course moved to exclude the Swede from the results meaning David would actually be classified sixth overall.
"To finish sixth isn't a bad result at all", commented David, "It was a good race and I got a good start. Obviously Hohenthal and Hogan came together so that allowed me to pick up one place at the start.
"A couple of laps later, Sutton and Mailleux spun in the middle of the track and then I got past Smith who had already passed me earlier in the race. Smith retook the position and then we both caught the pack ahead. Unfortunately though, neither of us could find a way past Niemela who had lost a lot pace due to some loose bodywork on his car."
Along with an important top six result, David was also heartened after setting the fourth fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m 30.723 seconds -- just four 10ths of a second adrift of race winner Sam Bird's best lap of all.
Heading into Round 16 joint-second in the DPRAC Cup standings with Dean Smith, David was hopeful of putting on a strong showing in his quest for the trophy. With well over 50,000 spectators looking on too as part of Formula Renault UK's biggest race meeting of the year, the stage looked set for an intriguing battle.
Starting the race lower than he would have liked in 12th position, David was nonetheless confident his Apotex Pharmaceuticals-backed Scorpio car would maintain the sort of pace he was able to run in the first of the weekend's races.
Frustratingly though, the reigning Formula Palmer Audi Vice-Champion was cheated out of the opportunity to challenge for another impressive result after being taken out of proceedings at McLeans Corner on lap seven by Cheng Cong Fu.
Commenting on the incident, David explained: "I got a good start, moved into the top eight when Sutton and Pippa (Mann) had a coming together at the hairpin, and then I was able to catch Cheng very quickly.
"On the approach to McLeans on about lap seven, he tried to go up the inside of Niemela but both ran wide. I tried to go up the inside and was confident of gaining two more places in one corner but then Cheng swiped back across the track into the left-side of my car and in doing so took my front wheel off."
He added: "It's a very frustrating way to end the weekend as the first race went well for us and we showed we had good pace again in the second outing. However, we should be pleased with the improvements we made to our pace over the weekend and now I'm looking forward to Brands Hatch in two weeks as we usually go well there."
Rounds 17 and 18 of the season, the penultimate race meeting of the Formula Renault UK Championship, will take place at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on 23rd/24th September.