Kiwi youngsters sample LMP speed
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Evans and Stanaway impress at Bahrain WEC Rookie Test
New Zealand drivers Mitch Evans and Richie Stanaway have both had a taste of the LMP1 platform over the weekend at the official World Endurance Championship official ‘Rookie Test’ in Bahrain. Evans hopped aboard a Porsche 919 Hybrid for the second time this year, while Stanaway took over an Audi R18 e-tron quattro — his first ever drive of an LMP1 car.
Evans was in fine company at Porsche, testing the 919 alongside former Formula 1, Nascar, and current IndyCar driver Juan Pablo Montoya. But the 21-year-old did not appear daunted by his Columbian company, clocking a best lap of 1:42.946 over his 54 lap test run — just over one second slower than regular driver Neel Jani’s fastest time over the weekend’s 6 Hours of Bahrain.
“It’s great to be back in the Porsche 919 Hybrid and to enjoy this level of technology. The car is really great to drive and it’s easy to get confidence in it. I’m learning little things here and there every lap,” said Evans.
“The car benefits a lot from the four-wheel drive under braking and obviously acceleration. The 919 has got a lot of downforce and the way it looks after its tyres is a lot better than in a GP2 car.”
Richie Stanaway pictured with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Photo / Supplied
Stanaway was faster still aboard the Audi, claiming the fastest lap out of the ‘rookies’ with a 1:42.134 — going on to label the Audi “by far the coolest race car I've ever driven!”
While Stanaway is already an established sports-car competitor, holding down a factory Aston Martin slot, Evans’ future direction is still up in the air. He was able to impress many earlier this year when he made his Le Mans debut in LMP2, though he’s also been competitive in this year’s GP2 series — claiming two wins in the category.
The test for the pairing comes after current Porsche factory driver Brendon Hartley, along with teammates Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard, claimed the 2015 WEC crown, after finishing fifth in the series finale — also staged in Bahrain.