Michael Epps will remain with Team HARD in the British Touring Car Championship, where he will race one of the outfit's fleet of Volkswagen CCs for the 2017 season.

Epps negotiated his debut BTCC season aboard a Team HARD prepared Toyota Avensis and scored 23 overall championship points for Tony Gilham's Kent-based squad in 2016.

Competing for the honour of top rookie, Epps took the fight for the Jack Sears all the way to the season finale but eventually lost out to MG's Ashley Sutton for the coveted title.

Pushing aside his initial doubts of remaining in the BTCC for 2017, Epps is optimistic Team HARD has all ingredients of pushing forward with VW machinery next season.

"You know, I was a little concerned about being a one season wonder in the BTCC, especially being such a tough season, but I'm glad I was able to make an impression and create a 2017 campaign out of it," said Epps.

"Tony (Gilham) has essentially opened the door for me to race in a championship I once never really considered as a possibility. Now we are set for year number two and I think we have a good chance to make a real impact.

"As anyone would expect, with a small budget and as part of one of the younger teams on the grid in my rookie season, there have been many challenges and I'm expecting there to be plenty more ahead too. The ingredients are there though; with the new cars and more people on-board I think we should be properly in the mix this time. We definitely outdid our equipment this year.

"The deal is the right one for us at the end of the day. The team are passionate, they're loud, and they want success. I have a great relationship with them and I think we've got what it takes, this will be the first time I've done a second season in any championship too."

Expressing his pride over retaining the 24-year old for another season, Team HARD principal Tony Gilham believes the pace of Epps during 2016 didn't get the recognition it deserved.

"We are very proud to have been able to put a package together to retain Mike for 2017. It is important for us to try to keep as much consistency with the team as possible and we have a great foundation on which to build on," said Gilham.

"He had a great season and we believe that next year will be very interesting to see how far up the grid Mike can get. His pace was outstanding last year and got nowhere near enough credit for his consistent front running lap times each weekend."


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