Motorsport: Evans fastest rookie in Spanish GP2

Mitch Evans tests a GP2 Series car. Photo / Supplied
Mitch Evans tests a GP2 Series car. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand's Mitch Evans was the fastest rookie driver and broke into the top 10 on the third and final day of GP2 testing at the Jerez circuit in Southern Spain overnight (NZT).

The 18-year-old Aucklander, who was the youngest of 24 driver taking part in the pre-season testing, finished three days of wet and dry running with the eighth fastest time in the last session.

"We made good progress over the three days," Evans said. "I'm starting to feel more comfortable with the GP2 car and in a position where I know I can go faster. There's more potential yet - I just need more time in the car."

The 2012 GP3 champion has quickly adapted to the dramatic increase in power in GP2. Last season's turbocharged 2.0-litre GP3 engine produced 280hp; in contrast to the 612hp of the 40-litre V8 Renault in the Dallara GP2 chassis.

Evans covered 170 laps of the 4.4km circuit during the six hours of track time allowed each day and on Thursday was faster than Arden International teammate Johnny Cecotto Jnr in both the morning and afternoon runs for the first time.

"Johnny has raced four seasons in GP2 so it is good to have the benefit of his experience," Evans said. "It gives me a benchmark and it was good that we were giving similar feedback to the engineers."

Cecotto is the 23-year-old son of the Venezuelan motor cycle world champion who went on from his 350cc title with Yamaha in 1975 to race cars in Formula One in the mid-1980s.

"The team were happy with our performance and I'm getting on well with Chris Gorne who was the engineer with the New Zealand A1GP team. He's great to work with and I'm already feeling confidence within the team.

"At the end, we were just a couple of tenths off being second fastest, so that was a very positive outcome. All and guys around me were experienced GP2 drivers, so it is good to be mixing it with them already. And I know there is more time to come from me."

Next week Evans will be at the Barcelona circuit for the second and final pre season GP2 testing before the opening races of the 11-round GP2 season at the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix on March 23-24.

Evans had his introduction to GP2 at the 4.6km Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona last November, when he was also fastest rookie and set the eighth fastest time.

"I will continue to gain confidence at Barcelona," Evans said. "It's all good so far, really tough but we are working hard as a team and I'm pretty happy at the way my European season has started.

"After the off-season, it is a bit of a shock to the system to be driving again, particularly when you do a full race run on day two. These cars are more physical to drive. You run a lot of castor at the front end, so the steering is heavy and, when you are running without a stop for an hour, you really feel it in the high speed corners.

"I expect I will adapt to it quickly because I've prepared well with all my training for the new season."

- APNZ

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