Motorsport: GP2 options for Evans

By Eric Thompson

Kiwi ace has been invited to test drive with strong teams in Abu Dhabi this week

Mitch Evans didn't have Lady Luck on his side in round 11 of the 2013 GP2 Championship at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi at the weekend. Picture / GP2 Media
Mitch Evans didn't have Lady Luck on his side in round 11 of the 2013 GP2 Championship at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi at the weekend. Picture / GP2 Media

It was a tale of two fortunes for the two young New Zealand motor racing drivers at the Abu Dhabi Formula One event last weekend at the Yas Marina circuit.

The second half of GP2 pilot Mitch Evans' season has lurched from one hiccup to another and the team never really managed to fire on all cylinders in the last four race weekends, picking up zero points.

A frustrating time for the 2012 GP2 champion for sure, but the Aucklander was very much on-song when he had the car to do the business, finishing on the podium four times - highlighted by a front row start and two third placings at Monaco.

In his last race of the season, Evans stormed through the field from starting last on the grid in 24th to cross the line 14th in the sprint race. His woes started during Friday's practice when the car developed the electric problems the team experienced in Singapore.

Evans ran strongly in the 30-minute qualifying session under lights, setting sixth fastest time on his first run.

Unfortunately a late red flag delay allowed only him one flying lap on his second set of tyres and he dropped to 11th on the grid.

With several well-executed passing moves, Evans had moved up steadily through the 26-car field. During the compulsory tyre change phase of the race, he briefly held third place but his run ended as he tried to overtake Spanish driver Sergio Canamasas after his pit stop.

"I went up the inside of him at the last corner and I thought the passing move was on. He was on a set of used prime tyres (the hard compound) and I was on a new set of the super soft tyres after my pitstop," said Evans.

"I had more grip and was carrying more speed. I thought I was far enough alongside him to get through but he squeezed me and we touched."

The collision damaged the steering and Evans was forced to stop on the pit straight - which brought out the safety car in the closing stages of the race.

After a review of the incident, race officials decided Evans caused the collision and would be penalised by starting from the back of the grid in Sunday's race.

Not all is lost though, as the 19-year-old is testing this week with the two leading GP2 teams with an eye on his options for next year.

Russian Time, the 2013 GP2 series team champions, will test Evans first, followed by Racing Engineering who provided the car for the 2013 champion.

Russian Time won the team title at Abu Dhabi on Sunday with their drivers Brit Sam Bird and Frenchman Tom Dilmann showing consistent form throughout the German-based team's first year in GP2.

Bird finished second in the driver rankings and Dilmann was tenth.

The Spanish-based Race Engineering team wrapped up the GP2 driver title for Switzerland's Fabio Leimer in the feature race at Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

This will be a hectic week for Evans because he's also been invited to undertake three days of testing with Pirelli and Dallara in the current GP3 car.

The annual post-season GP3 testing will be run alongside the GP2 testing.

Earl Bamber (middle) on the podium was on fire at the weekend. Picture / Supplied
Earl Bamber (middle) on the podium was on fire at the weekend. Picture / Supplied

Evans, the 2012 GP3 champion, will test the new-generation GP3 car and has been invited back for more tyre testing next weekend.

The other driver racing over the weekend was recently crowned Porsche Carrera Cup Asia pilot Earl Bamber.

Driven will have the full interview in Saturday's edition, but suffice to say Bamber was a man on fire, setting pole in race one and finishing second. In race two, he started seventh and finished fifth behind fellow Kiwi Richie Stanaway.

- NZ Herald

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