Motorsport: Kiwi Evans just grabs GP3 title

By Eric Thompson

Mitch Evans who yesterday wrapped up the GP3 title at Monza in Italy. Photo / GP3 MEDIA
Mitch Evans who yesterday wrapped up the GP3 title at Monza in Italy. Photo / GP3 MEDIA

Aucklander Mitch Evans clinched the GP3 title by the skin of his teeth overnight at Monza in a heart-in-the mouth contest that didn't feature the New Zealander for the majority of the last race of the weekend.

Evans' title was decided by Daniel Abt - the winner of Saturday's race and the only driver who could take the championship from Evans - and Tio Ellinas, who battled it out at the front of the pack for most of the race.

"It was touch and go after that puncture," Evans said.

"I was literally screaming into my helmet 'go Tio' because I could see what was happening up at the front on the big screens all around the circuit. I knew exactly what was happening."

Evans said it had been a roller-coaster year. "This was the third time I've been put out with a puncture. Those times made it tough - people don't remember the missed opportunities."

The New Zealander had to start from the rear of the grid after damaging his car in Saturday's race and retiring on lap one while Abt started in eighth. When the lights went out, Evans took off and after just one lap had moved up 10 places.

However, disaster was soon to strike the Kiwi.

While trying to move even further up through the field with some audacious moves, his car suffered the puncture causing him to pit and dropping him back down to last.

To snatch the title from Evans, Abt had to win the race and the Kiwi finish out of the points. For the majority of the second part of the race that certainly looked on the cards as Abt held off a determined Ellinas.

With two laps to go Ellinas slipped past Abt and held on to win from the German, handing the championship to Evans, who won the title by 1.5 points.

"To be honest, it's a shame to finish second like this. Coming here, I didn't think [winning the title] could happen," Abt told Autosport.

"But when you can win it, when I knew Evans was out, I knew I had to do it. But I just couldn't hold [Ellinas] off, he was really quick. It was nearly a perfect weekend, we were so close."

By winning the title at his second attempt, Evans receives a cheque for $400,000 to go towards a GP2 campaign, one step down from Formula One, and a test in a GP2 car.

Though the funding is welcome, Evans' annual GP3 budget was on the healthy side of $750,000 and the move up a category will cost in the region of $2 million-odd.

"I think it's remarkable that one of the youngest, if not the youngest, competitor in the GP3 series came through and won," said former McLaren F1 team member Bob McMurray.

"It's a continuation of the talent he showed all the way through from his Formula Ford days into the Toyota Racing Series and as a graduate of the Elite Motorsport Academy."

- NZ Herald

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