Kiwi driver Mitch Evans overcame a bout of food poisoning to finish 10th on his debut in the International GP2 series at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
The 18-year-set set targets of qualifying inside the top six and finishing in a top 10 point-scoring position for the race, and he achieved both ambitions despite suffering food poisoning soon after his arrival in Malaysia.
Evans was fourth fastest in Friday practice, qualified sixth and ran third on the opening lap before eventually finishing 10th. The youngest driver in the 26-car field was the best performer among the six rookies.
Evans had mixed emotions about the performance but he
"I made a mega start but the front tyres went off very quickly and I dropped back," he said. "It was a shame, so I was lucky to get sixth. I can't be too greedy at his early stage of the season. We'll take the point but I think our potential was better than 10th place.
"I had a rough night before qualifying on Friday. I had bad stomach cramps and spent time in the medical centre. I had to see the doctor twice and felt really bad during the 30-minute qualifying session. Then I got a yellow flag during my first run and struck traffic on the second, so I was lucky to snatch sixth fastest time."
Evans said he didn't feel as bad by Saturday morning and the race started well. However, after the sudden deterioration of his front tyres, he was one of the first to peel off into the pits for the compulsory tyre change, just six laps into the one-hour feature race.
With others stopping for their compulsory tyre change, Evans got as high as seventh by lap 22 and then held eighth place from lap 24 to 26. That position would have secured him pole position for today's reverse grid sprint race.
"But I was again struggling for front end grip at the end and dropped back to 10th," he said. "It could have been much worse so I'm satisfied with my first race in GP2. My fitness was good and that is helping me get over the food poisoning that struck me and several of my mates late last week.