Motorsport: Evans seals deal with Russian Time

By Eric Thompson

New Zealand driver Mitch Evans has never been shy of hard work and a challenge.
New Zealand driver Mitch Evans has never been shy of hard work and a challenge.

One of New Zealand's best and brightest single seater prospects, Mitch Evans, will drive for the GP2 Russian Time team this season.

It's taken a while to get all the paperwork across the line as the Russian Time team principal Igor Mazepa died suddenly on February 5 leaving the outfit in a quandary.

Mazepa took over the iSport GP2 entry last year and won the team's title in his debut year with driver Sam Bird finishing second in the championship to Fabio Leimer.

The team announced last Wednesday that iSport would return to run Russian Time with much the same personnel who were in the team when they won the GP2 title in 2007 with Timo Glock.

Evans won the GP3 title in 2012 and moved up into GP2 last year where he had a stuttering season. When everything was on song the Aucklander was as quick as anyone else on track and stood on the podium four times.

"It's a huge relief and great to get it all sorted and secure so we can now crack on and get down to business," said Evans. "It's been a bit of a process as we've been juggling a few teams in an effort to get the right package. It got a bit complicated with the new management of Russian Time, but in the end it happened pretty quickly.

"We were talking to them before Igor passed away and it moved forward when iSport took over but obviously it's been a hard time for the team, but I hope we can repeat how the team did last year."

If Evans stays true to form in the feeder categories to Formula One, he'll be in the title hunt towards the end of the season. When the Kiwi arrived in GP3 he hit a few speed bumps in his first year in the competitive class but bounced back to take the title in the following year.

He didn't have a dissimilar first year in GP2 and is looking to repeat his feat of 2012 and be the driver to beat. He'll have his work cut out in a highly contested championship, but Evans has never been shy of hard work and a challenge.

"Ideally it would be great to win the driver's championship this year and that's our goal. This is my second year in the category and I need to be challenging for the title. Hopefully we'll be able to be up the front and I think we're in a position to do that.

"Having a car that is consistently competitive will be important and I'm sure with iSport's history that won't be a problem. We'll be going hard at it during testing to make sure we can get the car as good as possible before the first race.

"We need to get the season off to a good start to get points early on and make sure we keep the momentum going to be able to be in with a chance of the title later in the season," said Evans.

His teammate this year is fellow 19-year-old Artem Markelov who finished second in the German Formula Three championship.

Evans knows a little about his teammate having met him in Abu Dhabi at the Russian Time test session in November last year. The Russian is moving straight from a national F3 series into a car not too different to that of an F1 beast.

"I don't know a whole about Artem and I'm looking forward to getting to know him better over the next few weeks.

"Obviously he hasn't any experience in a GP2 car so it'll take him a little bit to get to know the car.

"I'm there also to help him out as much as possible during testing and get him up to speed and hopefully he'll be able to be competitive when the racing starts," said Evans.

The pair gets six days of full-on testing before the season starts in April in Bahrain - three days at Yas Marina and another three at March Sakhir to shake the cobwebs out and get a good base setup in the cars for the opening round.

- NZ Herald

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