GP3 leader heads into final round confident and eager to give it his best shot
Mitch Evans isn't feeling, outwardly anyway, too much pressure as the GP3 series leader heading into the last round of the championship this weekend at Monza, Italy.
If the weight of possibly winning his first European title does start to be a distraction, Evans will be able to turn to his mentor, and MW Arden team owner, Mark Webber, for a bit of advice.
The Australian Red Bull Racing Formula One driver has been at the pointy end of motor racing for a number of years.
He's kept a wary eye on the Kiwi as he's accumulated enough points over the past seven rounds to arrive at the Italian track as favourite to take the 2012 GP3 trophy home.
It's no forgone conclusion Evans will take the championship this weekend though, as he's one of four drivers who could win the title come late tomorrow night (NZ time).
Evans leads the hunt for the championship by 21.5 points from the man currently on fire, Red Bull junior driver Antonio Felix da Costa, with Aaro Vainio trailing by 24.5 and third-placed driver Daniel Abt 35 points back from Evans.
There are 48 points up for grabs over the weekend so it's still anyone's game. When he spoke to the Weekend Herald, the Kiwi said he wasn't overly bothered and just wanted to go racing.
"I'm feeling really good at the moment and looking forward to getting to the track so I can do the business," said Evans.
"I've got a bit of a points lead, which is nice, but we'll just go and give it our best shot. We can't control what the others are going to do - it is what it is - and we'll put our best foot forward and it should be an interesting weekend."
Last weekend at the Spa Francorchamps race, Evans grasped his opportunity in qualifying, picking a valuable extra four points for putting his car on pole and then went on to finish third in the race.
Race two on Sunday didn't produce the result the team was hoping for. Evans had the gate shut on him by Felix da Costa who clipped the front of this car upsetting the toe-out and castor, stopping the car turning in at the corners.
Evans finished out of the points, as did one of his nearest rivals Vainio, allowing the New Zealander to extend his lead in the championship. "It was a shame [not to score any points on Sunday], but on a positive note I still have a healthy points lead ahead of Monza.
"It'll come down to what happens in race one. If I can qualify fastest and get the bonus points and back that up with a good race result, then in race two some of the pressure will be off.
"Monza though, is a track where anything can happen. A lot of drafting goes on there and the lead can change every lap so it'll be good racing, that's for sure.
"I like the track and we were fast there and doing well before I got hit off. Getting the four points for pole has become a real factor this year and can affect the whole championship.
I've been lucky this year and had a few poles and that's helped in the championship," said Evans.
In any elite sport luck can, and will, play a small part, but with Evans consistently being quick and picking up points at nearly every round, his record speaks for itself. Something will have to go seriously wrong over the weekend to stop Evans' march to another category title.
"I'm in a pretty good position to win the championship and hopefully we can pull it off.
"I've just got to stay positive and finish the races," said Evans.By Eric Thompson