EPTON ENJOYS STELLAR OULTON PARK OUTING Formula Renault UK Championship returnee David Epton made a solid return to action at Oulton Park Island Circuit over the weekend, the 25-year-old enjoying a brace of stellar outings during the third and...
EPTON ENJOYS STELLAR OULTON PARK OUTING
Formula Renault UK Championship returnee David Epton made a solid return to action at Oulton Park Island Circuit over the weekend, the 25-year-old enjoying a brace of stellar outings during the third and fourth rounds of the season.
With his 2006 deal coming too late for the opening meeting of the season at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit last month, an 11th hour agreement just a few days ago ensured David would be on the grid with Scorpio Motorsport this weekend for his first competitive outing in an FR 2.0 car since the midway point of the 2004 season.
Having secured key backing this year from Bombardier, Honeywell Aerospace and Universal Aviation, the Preston resident concluded qualifying on Saturday with a sense of frustration having missed out on a decisive final flying lap when the second session was red flagged with several minutes remaining.
Unable to try and improve on his previous best, David would be forced to start round four from 18th position on the grid while for Saturday's third round he would also line-up 18th on the grid and with a great deal of work ahead of him.
At the start of the first of the weekend's races, no sooner had it got underway than chaos ensued at Old Hall Corner but David was skilful enough to avoid contact and managed to stay clear of the troubles ahead of him to move into 17th position before the Safety Car emerged from the pitlane in time for the start of lap two.
Racing resumed on the seventh lap and during the remaining laps David competed well, picking off several places on his way to the chequered flag and crossing the line at the end of the 11-lap outing in 13th place, six 10ths of a second ahead of pre-season title favourite Sebastian Hohenthal.
For Sunday's race, David was in confident mood and by the second lap he had made terrific progress into 11th position before slipping back a handful of places following a close-call with Franck Mailleux, which almost resulted in David collecting the pit-wall as the Frenchman defended his position sternly.
Thankfully, both cars continued but the delay did allow Dean Smith and Richard Keen to leapfrog ahead of the Scorpio ace forcing him back to 13th position. On the last corner of the final lap, however, David produced an impressive move to take 12th position and miss out on the top 10 by just four 10ths of a second at the chequered flag.
Reflecting on his first weekend back in Formula Renault UK, David said: "We struggled a little bit with the changing conditions in qualifying, which wasn't ideal, so starting both races in 18th position didn't help my cause.
"We showed we definitely had the pace though, my best lap in both races was only a couple of 10ths of a second away from my team-mate's times so that's given us a lot of confidence to be so quick in our first outing back in the series.
"I'm pleased with 12th position in the second race but the top 10 was certainly a realistic possibility. I was tucked up behind Mailleux as we crossed the start/finish line but as I pulled out to try and pass he chopped across the front of me and I ended up hitting his exhaust and then almost collided with the pit-wall."
He added: "Thankfully I escaped any major problem but the incident did allow a couple of cars to go through. I followed the train of cars ahead of me for five or six laps, taking a watching brief, and then with a couple of laps to go it all started kicking off and I managed to get a place on the final corner which was pleasing."
Although currently working and residing in Preston, Lancashire, David hails from Fleet in Hampshire and so is looking forward to what might be classed as his 'home' race in three week's time at the ultra-fast Thruxton Circuit, near Andover.
"Thruxton is still a local track for me, the last time I was there I qualified in the top five so I like the circuit and I'm looking forward to it", commented David, "The Scorpio guys have got the car working well so I'm confident we can be right up there and challenging for some very good points."
Rounds five and six of the 2006 Formula Renault UK Championship will take place at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire on 3rd/4th June.