Motorsport: Show Mitch the money!

By Eric Thompson

Youngster looks to test drives as gateway to a new challenge.

After success in GP3, Mitch Evans is turning his gaze to the higher-powered - and more expensive - world of gp3. Photo / Supplied
After success in GP3, Mitch Evans is turning his gaze to the higher-powered - and more expensive - world of gp3. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand's most recent European motor racing champion, Mitch Evans, was back in Auckland on a short break celebrating his GP3 championship before going back to Europe for bit of GP2 testing this month.

Evans is the latest Kiwi in single-seater racing to take it to the internationals on their home soil and come away with the grand prize.

He was spotted by Red Bull Formula One driver Mark Webber at the Australian Grand Prix and has been guided and mentored by the Aussie ever since.

Webber signed him up for his MW Arden GP3 team - part-owned by Red Bull Racing principal Christian Horner, and Evans will be testing with Arden's GP2 team.

"We've managed to get the budget together to do two days of GP2 testing in Barcelona at the end of October with Arden," said Evans. "There's also a possibility of getting another two days later on at Jerez on the 22nd and 23rd of November.

"The money has come from stuff we've saved up and it's been helped by my sponsors ... I also get one free day's testing with Arden as a prize for winning the championship."

The 18-year-old has moved steadily through the ranks, beginning in karting before going on to Formula First, Formula Ford and then the Toyota Racing Series in 2010.

He claimed pole and a win on his debut, and went on to become the youngest TRS champion.

The following year Evans continued his good form and became the youngest winner of the New Zealand Grand Prix.

The GP3 cars have some commonality with the TRS car, but a GP2 car is a different kettle of fish. It is one step down from a Formula One car and is a bit of a beast to get the hang of.

"I know it's going to be tough but I'm looking forward to the challenge," Evans said.

"The cars are a lot different. The power to weight ratio is pretty lethal. The car weights much the same as a GP3 car but has double the horsepower.

"It's a bit of an animal but it's pretty cool as it's another step closer to F1. It's going to be a big thing to go for a spin in one. It's scary to be honest, just how lethal they are and it'll be a great experience.

"You've got to respect the car as it will probably bite you in the butt. I'm going there with low expectations and I'm not expecting to be at the pointy end as most of the guys testing will have raced the class for a few years."

A GP2 car is one of those beasts that drivers can't just leap into and be quick. But Evans has proved he's capable to getting into something he's not driven before and posting quick times early on.

He's also a thinking driver and won't be out to prove some point and stuff the car into a wall.

Although nothing is set in stone and funding is a sticking point, Evans is hoping there might be a chance to contest the next year's GP2 season. In the meantime he's enjoying having a bit of a break and savouring being the GP3 champion.

"It's starting to sink in a bit now that I did win the title. It gives me a bit of confidence that I can race at that level and there are certainly no negatives about winning the championship. It's also going to help trying to find sponsorship.

"Also, the title win didn't come easy and that's helped me learn to take the good with bad."

The money needed to make the step up into the GP2 class, or wherever Evans decides to go, is substantially more than that required for a GP3 season. For a start there are 12 rounds in GP2 against the eight in GP3.

To be competitive Evans, his backers and sponsors need to find around $3 million to contest the series.

Unlike a lot of New Zealanders who have many ways of accessing public funds to help them compete internationally, Evans and his team of supporters has to find the money on their own.

If you want to help a local lad continue his push to the top of motor racing, you can find more details at www.mitchevans.com.

- NZ Herald

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