Motorsport: Evans closing in on GP3 title

By Eric Thompson

Mechanical failure let Mitch Evans down last season but this year consistent wins have him leading the field.
Mechanical failure let Mitch Evans down last season but this year consistent wins have him leading the field.

Topping points table with two rounds to go, Kiwi can't wait for iconic Belgian Spa track.

The second GP3 adventure of young New Zealand open wheel racer Mitch Evans is ending on rather a different note to his first foray into European racing.

Last season the talented Kiwi started with a hiss and a roar, but due to the vagaries of the mechanical gods and team decision making, Evans had a miserable end, settling for ninth place.

This year, however, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, Evans and his MW Arden team are sitting on top of the points table with two rounds to go, including this weekend in Belgium.

The Aucklander heads Aaro Vainio by 17 points with third-placed Antonio Felix Da Costa a further 17 points back.

"I can't wait to get back in the car, the wait between races isn't normally this long," said Evans.

Evans and his fellow contestants are at one of the most iconic race tracks on the calendar - Spa-Francorchamps - renowned as one of the most challenging circuits any driver will come across.

"We were at Spa last year and it wasn't such a good time for us. There were a lot of positives as we were very quick in practice but I got taken out in the second race.

"It's an amazing circuit and about the longest we do at just over seven kilometres.

"It's a pretty special place to race at and some of the greats have raced here; I can't wait to go through Eau Rouge [combination of corners with a blind uphill summit], one of the most famous corners there is."

In such a tightly contested series where there have already been seven different race winners from the 12 races to date; 18-year-old Evans is the only driver to have won three times heading to Spa.

He won at the opening race in Barcelona, following that by topping the podium in Valencia and Hockenheim. There's some comfort for Evans having a few points up his sleeve with two rounds to go, but with 96 points on offer over the Spa and Monza weekends the fat lady isn't even warming up yet.

"Being at the pointy end with two weeks to go is nice but I've still got qualifying and two races to deal with this weekend, and then the same the weekend after."

Speed and race craft have never been an issue for Evans, and if there is a chink in the team's armour it's tyre management, which has let them down in the past.

This is becoming less and less of an issue as the season has progressed, as a better understanding of what is required on each race day has become more apparent.

"We've made quite a few improvements, especially with the wet set-up, and are now much stronger when it rains.

"The weather at Spa, though, can change so quickly but we're confident we can handle anything thrown at us now."

Evans can be seen in action on Sky Sport One where race one is live on Sunday at 3.15am and his delayed second race is at 2pm on Monday.

- NZ Herald

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