Evans emerges as top GT contender over the ditch
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Kiwi-born driver continues to march forward in Aussie GT racing
While our Australian motorsport limelight is dominated by Shane van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin, and Fabian Coulthard via their combined exploits in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, there are also plenty of New Zealanders competing across other categories over the ditch.
One of the more popular classes is the Australian GT Championship, which currently has no less than 10 Kiwis spread throughout the field. And, like in the Supercars, they're a force to be reckoned with. Last weekend's opening round of the AGT Endurance Championship at Victoria's Phillip Island, a 501km torture test in changeable weather conditions, was won by a pair of Aussie-based Kiwis; Tim Miles and 20-year-old Jaxon Evans, driving the second Jamec Pem Valvoline Audi R8 GT3.
Speaking to Driven, Evans ranked the victory as one of the best of his racing career.
"This race win would have to be up there with the biggest of my career.
"With such a strong field of talented drivers makes it all that much sweeter," he said.
"Heading into the weekend we didn't really know how we would go. But after the driver ratings came out, Tim and I knew we could use that to our advantage come Sunday's race."
After spending much of the race lurking in the background as chaos unfolded for several other top-flight entries, Evans and Miles emerged as race contenders after the final pit cycle. With Evans bringing the car home, his main task was to counter the attack of fellow Kiwi Dom Storey; who had led the race earlier in the day but was unable to catch him by the chequered flag.
Evans has retained a relatively low profile on both sides of the ditch, despite his motorsport genes. His mother, Debbie Lester, is a former racer in New Zealand, and helps connect Evans to the rest of the Lester racing lineage including his cousin Super GT driver Jono Lester.
The telling speed Evans showed in karting blossomed into a drive in the Australian Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge -- a class for older-generation Carrera Cup Porsches. This gave him a firm base for a career in GTs, and he now straddles two classes; the AGT Endurance Championship and Australia's premier Porsche Carrera Cup series (where he races for yet another New Zealander, Andy McElrea).
With an AGT win to his name, as well as a string of podiums in Carrera Cup, Evans could become hot property for opportunities in Supercars. But he remains open-minded; with GT racing internationally still his first priority.
"At this stage I'm just trying to focus on the year ahead in both Carrera Cup and Australian GT. My primary goal is to open as many doors as I can both here in Australia and hopefully in Europe and Asia.
"That's not saying that I don't want to drive a V8 Supercar. If the opportunity arose I'd jump at it. But my main focus is, and always has been, persevering a career in GT racing overseas."
Despite winning at Phillip Island, it's undecided whether Evans will race at the two New Zealand events on the calendar; the Hampton Downs 101 and the Highlands 101.
"At this stage, we haven't made any plans to race the two New Zealand rounds. So, although we are in a good position, it is still early days and we will have to decide if we will complete the championship after the next round in Sydney."
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