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Mike Epps positive on summer progress made

Even though Team HARD is using the GPRM components on the three Toyota Avensis they are running in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) this year, Mike Epps is still in a positive frame of mind about the progress the team has made.

Epps showed good pace in both free practice sessions, being fastest rookie at the early goings, running up as high as third at one point during the second.

He was still able to push the car to the limits of its capabilities, even though the competition have dramatically improved over the mid-season, which saw the 24-year-old as the third fastest rookie in qualifying behind MG RCIB Insurance Racing’s Ashley Sutton and Speedworks’ Matt Simpson.

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“I think we did alright, but just out of the three sessions, it was the most difficult of the day,” said the 24-year-old to TouringCars.Net, after putting his car on 20th on the grid for the first race at Snetterton.

“All the while, we’re gaining half a second or a second out on track. But everyone’s finding loads of time, so it’s hard to compete with the RML guys at the moment.”

The Hemel Hempstead driver explained that getting the draft behind another car would have helped his progress further up the grid, with the opportunity to be around four tenths of a second quicker.

“It’s worth quite a lot here, especially down the back straight. So if you can nail it, you can get that time, which would put us on a 1:56.5 and closer to the big boys.”

In terms of the two-day Dunlop test at the Norfolk circuit back in June, Epps was not that far off the pace of the top runners, an impressive feat in machinery that helped define the current era of the BTCC.

“There wasn’t much we could do, in terms of how to develop the car at the test, but we did learn a few things that helped us in the dry and especially in the wet,” he stated, saying that testing is always difficult to gauge what the rest of the field was doing.

This was respective of how Epps and team mates Jake Hill and Michael Caine faired, which was also showcased through Gordon Shedden’s demolition of last year’s lap record for qualifying.

“Our efforts have made a difference, as we’re half a second off where pole position was last year, which would have been a good result,” said the former single-seater driver, who is hotly contesting the Jack Sears Trophy.

“I can move three or five places a race, and it’ll get me closer to the top ten,” he said, as he is 57 points behind leader Sutton, who is currently on 264 points.

“I just need to catch up with Ash, but he’s in another bloody world of his own at the moment in the MG. But it’s going to be a fun race day, and I’m feeling positive about getting back to work.”

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