During the weekend Yousuf was lucky enough to catch up with Mike Epps. They talked about Simply Race, Zansho Simsport, and what a real-life racing drivers take on sim racing and the GTR24H Sprint Series is. You will get a tiny look into how Mike helps the team understand the real-life physics behind setup changes in the sim. And how he sees a bright future for sim racing and the team. We hope you enjoy.
Transcription of the video:
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:00:09] Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen and welcome it to a quick interview. I’m Yousuf Bin-Suhayl and I’m joined by Mike Epps the driver for the number 370 Simply Race Zansho car. Mike, a strong result last time out. Fourth place at Laguna Seca. First of all, how’s that result for you guys?
Mike Epps: [00:00:28] It was good. Yeah funnily enough during the day of that race. I was stuck in a three-and-a-half to four-hour traffic jam on the M1. So I only actually got back just in time for my second for my stint to take over from I think Luka Berk who was the other driver. So I was quite lucky really to actually compete in it. So the first half of my student wasn’t brilliant because I was just kind of, normally I have a bit more time to practice and get involved beforehand, but I had to literally just jump straight in so second half as really really strong and yeah, I wish their wish it could have been like a for our race or something because we would quite good on the leaders towards the end. So well.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:01:17] You say the first part of your still was bad, you climbed all the way up from eighth to fourth. So I’d say it was a pretty darn good drive from yourself.
Mike Epps: [00:01:26] Yeah, it wasn’t too bad. Just it just lots of little minimal mistakes from me. Were I just loose tenth here or there and I’m like that tenth adds up to a second adds up to two seconds adds up to five seconds over a stint and that’s why it’s so important to not make mistakes in endurance racing. You lose just a tiny bit and every lap or on every off lap and it can cause you to fall back. So I feel like I could have actually caught the guys ahead by maybe five or six more seconds during my stint but you live and learn. So yeah, it was a good drive.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:02:01] And something I do want to mention his you’ve gotten your screen your lovely sim rig, your Fanatec wheel and of course you yourself.. oh. There it is that is a beautiful little spin. Now, of course, you yourself you are an IRL, you know, a real-life racing driver you race in the British Touring Car Championship Clio Cup Ginettas. How have you kind of found the transition from real cars to sim racing? Is it similar? And what kind of adoptions you have to make?
Mike Epps: [00:02:31] It depends quite a lot on how much time you put into setting your rig up. And what sims you use and what you racing. So I’ve used simulators prior to this year with I guess a few different venues across the UK that were involved with the racing teams. I was with and all that. Because as a real driver you always use the same when you can because it’s it’s like testing but one percent of the cost. It’s not like a five grand test day or something. So I didn’t have too much trouble adapting to it because I’ve been in iRacing member for nine-ten years and I was actually sponsored by them something like seven years ago. So I’m well aware of sim-racing. Although I hadn’t actually raced it professionally like this if you like not properly against, against the The real real real MVP is of sim racing. So it’s been a mixture of challenging but enjoyable for sure.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:03:38] Something else I do want to mention, yourself and simply race and who you picked up to Podium so far this year with at Tobin Leigh as your teammate last time out. It was a switch to Luka Berk. Is that going to be the Now new driver line-up you and Luka or is Tobin Leigh going to be coming back?
Mike Epps: [00:03:57] I’m not sure. I think it’s dependent on availability and I forgot to mention. That’s probably the biggest challenge. Actually. I’m finding now with the SIM racing and with real racing coming back is the being available for some of the races. It’s the hardest thing, right? So I think we’ll be I’m at I don’t think I’ll be able to do the next one. Although it really depends on one of my work commitments with real life and you know, man’s got to earn some money. So yeah. You can’t sort of I’m afraid that the Sim racing kind of takes the backseat and until it learns me some really decent income. So hopefully it’ll be me Luka, Tobin, or combinations of the three. Tobin is really impressive. Especially for a very young lad like himself. So, you know, but we’ve got a whole host of great drivers at Zansho that will probably look to jump in the seat at some point.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:04:57] Yeah. And with the light driver line-up that you do have its own show. How does it kind of work in terms of you know setting up the car who does you know kind of the lead set up working who kind of takes more feedback from those drivers?
Mike Epps: [00:05:12] I’d probably say we all do it quite equally to be honest. There’s a couple of guys John Monroe and Russ McGregor who are in one of the other cars they do probably a fair few more laps than I do. Prior to a race I’ll so I’ll be on Discord and my phone or something at I don’t know Donington or something working and I’ll see them talking about this change and that rollbar change and sort of keeping up to scratch with it and I’ll be there like yeah, I’ll try it on Wednesday afternoon guys when I get some time, so but I do when I can throw in some testing time and I think the real-life inputs can really help with understanding why things work the rest of the drivers? So whereas this is not just all where I went one click stiffer on that and that felt better. It’s why did that feel better? What’s the reason behind it? The physics behind it, whether those physics are exactly accurate to real life as well and how we can interpret, you know, the physics engine that each game has or each team has. So yes, very long answer but I would say equally but especially John Monroe and Ross McGregor.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:06:34] Well, you mentioned John Monroe and Ross McGregor who are in the other Simply Race team, obviously with Simply Race having a few teams in the GTR24H Sprint Series when the series started was there kind of like a pecking order and people thinking okay, you know this team’s going to be finishing ahead of this team because right now you and along with Tobin Leigh and Luka Berk are tied with John Monroe and Ross McGregor’s team. So I was just kind of interested in that Dynamic.
Mike Epps: [00:07:04] I haven’t really thought of it to be honest. I’m quite a chillaxed guy with other teammates and all that stuff. Particularly for this racing because it’s enjoyable as well. Without wanting to dim the lights on it slightly but it’s not like it will be potentially career-ending if I bail out of race or crash or you know loose to my teammate. Whereas there have been scenarios in my real life Where it’s felt like: I’ve got to beat this guy because I need to be the best in the team and have the best opportunity. So I’m able to relax here and work with people more and treat it more like Well, fun. Actually enjoy it and yeah kind of… It’s just as much a social occasion is it is a sporting occasion if you like, so, we’re pretty chilled. We, you know, if one guy is faster than the other will move out of the way and we’ll work with each other to get the best result.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:08:11] The final question that I did want to bring up was again going back to the last race at Laguna Seca you and the other simply re Sancho team you brought out. BMW on the circuit and it was the first time we had seen it all season. What was the decision to bring that out instead of one of the Porsches which most of the other top teams had gone for?
Mike Epps: [00:08:34] It was down to I think the higher up guys in the team like Nick who does the engineering Nick dearly he seemed to think that this car was pretty strong for it. And so that was the choice that was made. I don’t think I was around when the choice of car was made actually in terms of I wasn’t fully part of the choice. So I’m fairly, you know each track has a couple of cars that tend to go better there. Don’t they? So typically we’ll choose those and I’m… I seem to remember some conversation about the Porsche being a bit difficult to drive and inconsistent. So the BMW for me was actually once got my inputs right it was actually a really decent car. I was consistent high 22s I think at the end of my stint and just you know, really really nice. So whatever the reason it was a good choice. I think.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:09:37] Also want to bring up, you know, you do have a couple of sponsors. One of them being is Zansho. Would you like to give us a bit more information about them?
Mike Epps: [00:09:45] Yes, Zansho Simsport is that their full names and Zansho Simsport. The main man there is Edmund Trevelyan-Johnson and we spoke I think February or March this year through a contact of mine at simply race Mike Yau. And I just ended up joining the team to do some racing. I’d already sort of got myself a rig being built and I’ve bought this sort of separately over the course of about six months. I’ve got the wheel and stuff last year, but the actual frame and rig I moved into this house in late January and it’s my first it’s my move away from the parent’s house. So I’ve got a load of space to you suddenly. So I got a rig made and all that and we got chatting and thought we’d do some rFactor 2, some Assetto Corsa racing. Obviously, the Race All-Stars happened and we got an entry into that and became a proper team and then we now have a fairly decent sort of starter a sponsor in Silverstone Composites which are not far away from me as I live in Northampton. So it’s all sort of blossomed from there. And I think now there’s a potentially big future from it because of the contacts we’ve acquired from various series we’ve raced in which have attracted huge household motorsport names, real-life motors names. So yeah, I couldn’t really say where or how it started or exactly what we are yet, but we’re definitely going to be known more and more in the future. I think it’s fair to say we’re popping up on every sim platform now and I think potentially could be a really big he’s full steam. I think we already are, to be Honest.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:11:50] Yeah, well you guys are doing a fantastic job as we mentioned you are currently tied for I believe it’s sixth place in the championship. Both of the Simply Race teams before we end the interview: The final couple of questions. What is your favorite track? And what is your favorite corner?
Mike Epps: [00:12:08] Favorite corner now that’s a bit more creative. I like that because my favorite track is everyone asks that and I say this a lot. I typically try to pick a different one each time. Okay, right cuz I find it quite funny really.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:12:21] We can say from one of the tracks that you’ve raced that in real life.
Mike Epps: [00:12:27] One of the tracks I have raced at in real life. That is still really hard. I tend to gravitate towards Brands hatch GP.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:12:39] Okay.
Mike Epps: [00:12:40] Because it’s weirdly I place like home for me France. I’m always there. Always working there and we don’t get to drive the GP very often and I can’t stress how much better is to drive in a real-life situation the undulations and the Rises and drops are so much more than you experience on any sim.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:13:03] Okay.
Mike Epps: [00:13:04] It’s just an awesome track to drive. So yeah Brands GP. Favorite corner. Difficult, difficult. I’m trying to think right now. There are so many good ones, to be honest. I’m going to say I’m not going to go with Eau Rouge because that would just be… You could have just written that down and predictive that.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:13:31] Yeah. That’s fair Yeah.
Mike Epps: [00:13:37] How about I’m going to pick a section instead of a corner the last section of The Nürburgring Nordschleife before you go on to the really long downhill straight. From about the part where your flat down the hill and you go right left, right, and then you go up to the… It’s just in every car, and I’ve driven around, there is just hair-raising. Like, am I going to make it through. And you’re not just driving ’round corners you’re predicting when you’re going to be partially airborne and when you’re going to land exactly. And that’s why I think that circuit really brings out certain drivers. So yeah, I’ll say that.
Yousuf Bin-Suhayl: [00:14:19] Okay, the flight final section of the Nordschleife before the long straight. Okay. Well, thank you Mike for your time. It’s been a pleasure talking to you and best of luck to you and all of Simply Race including You’re Simply Races Zansho team in the rest of the sprint series.
Mike Epps: [00:14:37] Cheers man. Thanks, and thanks everyone for tuning in and thanks to you guys for running a really cool series.