Motorsport:Kiwis aim to conjure some Monza magic

By Eric Thompson

Evans and Stanaway take on famous Italian circuit, writes Eric Thompson

Richie Stanaway is eager to move himself up the points table in the Porsche Supercup.
Richie Stanaway is eager to move himself up the points table in the Porsche Supercup.

The GP2 drivers are in Italy for round nine of their championship at the famous Monza circuit, one of the fastest tracks on their calendar. Drivers, including New Zealander Mitch Evans who's 11th on the points table, will have the throttle firmly flattened for about 80 per cent of the lap.

High-speed straights and fast corners that have caught out several of the world's best drivers over the years characterise Monza. There are three corners that will pose the biggest challenges - the first chicane characterised by heavy downhill braking, the Ascari curves with several rapid direction changes and the famous Parabolica, which is a wide, open corner that puts a lot of lateral stress on the cars and drivers.

"I've spent a bit of time on the simulator getting ready for the weekend," said Evans. "We should be all right this weekend but what might work on the simulator may not work all the time in real life.

"We're reasonably happy about heading to Monza but obviously we weren't happy about our last race [Spa-Francorchamps]. We're hoping to turn things around this weekend.

"Monza last year was where we won the GP3 championship and has good memories for me. We qualified on pole and it would be amazing to do the same this year. I'm looking forward to it and it's a highlight event for us."

Evans and his Arden International team are at the business end of their season with just three rounds to go including this weekend. The Kiwi has experienced the entire range of emotions in 2013 with the ecstasy of podium finishes and the heartbreaks of tyre and mechanical dramas and is keen to end the season with a bit of consistency.

"The goal was to end the season in the top five but that's looking a bit of a hard ask at the moment. Having said that, if we put together three good race weekends starting in Monza we could still just about get there. This year has just been so inconsistent we just don't know what's going to happen. We'll do our best and we'll be where we'll be. We've just got to stay positive and concentrate on the good races we've had," said Evans.

It has been extraordinarily frustrating for all those involved in the Evans and Arden big adventure this year, especially the way the pendulum of good fortune has swung from end to end.

When Arden and Evans have cracked it, the young New Zealander has been the quickest on track, proving he can mix it with the best by his podium finishes.

Mitch Evans has happy memories of racing at the legendary Monza track. Picture / Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service
Mitch Evans has happy memories of racing at the legendary Monza track. Picture / Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

When the car's been strong Evans has been at the front but if it's not in the window, the team have struggled to make it midfield. It makes it hard each weekend for the team when they have to front up at the race track to plan how the weekend is going to go with the lack of consistency.

"The team and myself work as hard as we can to come up with the right combinations, but if we miss the sweet spot it's a bit of a struggle. When we do crack it everything works well and we're hoping we can find the perfect setup at Monza to get well into the points," said Evans.

One good thing that has come out of Evans' time with Arden International is that he has been consistently quicker than his teammate Jonny Cecotto (16th) who has already had a number of years in the category.

Porsche Supercup

Evans will have a fellow countryman in Richie Stanaway at the Italian circuit. The Porsche Supercup is also a support category for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix and Stanaway is keen to get among the front-runners and move himself up the points table from 12th.

"I know I'm looking a bit average in Supercup at the moment but I don't get a lot of practice before qualifying," said Stanaway. "Just look at how I did at Interlagos when I had about an hour's practice to learn the track [he qualified as the fastest driver in his class].

"When it's a level playing field I'm as fast as everyone else and can beat the best in the business."

Stanaway only gets about seven or eight laps before qualifying in the Supercup events, and as the only real rookie in the class is at a major disadvantage to all the other drivers who have seasons and years racing the Porsche GT car.

"Having so little time each time in the car makes it quite difficult to do well. This weekend though might be better as we have tested at Monza before.

"The track suits me quite well but I don't have too many expectations. I'm just going to go out there and do the best I can and see where we end up at the end of the weekend," said Stanaway.

He's been to Monza before in different classes and has always shown good pace having been on for a podium in a GP3 race before suffering a puncture. During testing earlier this year, Stanaway was among the quickest and a track with a mixture of technical and high-speed sections appears to suit his driving well.

- NZ Herald

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