CLASS-WINNING ENDURANCE EFFORT SEES FLYING KIWI ON A HOT STREAK
One of New Zealand’s bright sparks on the international racing scene, Mitch Evans, heads to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain this weekend for round two of the GP2 Series.
The flying Kiwi will be in good spirits having competed in his first long-distance race at the World Endurance Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
The weekend’s race was round two of the FIA series and Evans’ first tilt in the category.
Showing remarkable pace in the rain during practice and qualifying, the inexperienced sports car racer converted that into race speed, setting up his co-drivers after his stint for the team to win the LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype) class.
While GP2 and single-seater racing remain the priority for the Kiwi, Evans’ manager Mark Webber had arranged the sports car drive with Jota Sport in a Gibson 015S-Nissan. Evans, along with co-drivers Simon Dolan and Harry Tincknell, mastered the conditions and the competition to take class honours and finish ninth outright.
“It was a great race and a great result,” Evans told Driven after arriving back in the UK. “As far as endurance racing goes it went pretty smoothly. One of my teammates got a drive-through [penalty] early on for jumping the start but we managed to pull ourselves back up into the race.
“During my stint I managed to haul in the leaders and by the time I handed over we were a minute up on the rest of the field [LMP2 class]. It was a long six hours and I really enjoyed it.
“The car was fast and great to drive, without the tyre degradation I’m used to GP2. I managed to catch the leaders during my double stint and put some time on them.
“I handed over to our silver driver who drove really well and then it was up to Harry and myself to bring it home for the win.
“It’s a good build-up for Le Mans [24-hour race] and I can’t wait for that one.”
With his eyes now firmly on the second round of the GP2 Series, Evans is well aware he and the team need to step up a notch if they are to haul themselves up from eighth on the points table.
The series is packed full of talented drivers and well-run teams and the merest slip-up by either the driver, engineers or mechanics results in a poor finish. At the opening round back in April at Sakhir, Bahrain, Evans qualified in a disappointing 13th and had his work cut out in race one to finish a creditable sixth.
Race two looked like it was going to be another top-10 finish until a scuffle with Julian Leal saw Evans limp back to the pits with a puncture. He rejoined the race to cross the line in 17th.
“It’s going to be a busy few weeks and this weekend I’m in Barcelona. It’ll be good to get back into the GP2 car after winning the LMP2 class.
“My last race in GP2 was okay but it wasn’t the result I was looking for.
“To be honest it was a bit disappointing for a number of reasons.
“It’s going to be a tough year because it’s so competitive. Testing went well but we didn’t have the same pace in qualifying and the race as we were expecting. We’ll see what Barcelona brings as Bahrain is a unique track and I hope we can be competitive again.
“I like the track and have won there in the past in GP3.
“I’ll be giving it everything I can and hopefully we can get some points and challenge the others.”