Motorsport: Young Kiwi drivers a real threat

By Eric Thompson

Mitch Evans is confident ahead of the first GP3 series race in Barcelona. Photo / Supplied
Mitch Evans is confident ahead of the first GP3 series race in Barcelona. Photo / Supplied

During the final two-day test session before the season kicks off, young New Zealand GP3 driver Mitch Evans again proved he's got the pace to be a real threat once the championship starts in May.

On day one, the MW Arden driver began his session under heavy clouds and cool temperatures and bided his time early on in the day letting the others set some solid times.

As the drivers went into their final hour of the morning session before the break, it was Evans who launched himself to the top of the heap with a 1:50:2secs lap, which was over half a second quicker than his nearest contender, Felix Da Costa.

The Kiwi's best lap time was five tenths faster than the quickest time posted at the Silverstone test in 2011.

In the afternoon Evans was briefly bumped off the top but soon put in a flyer, before rain ended the practice and he finished the day just two hundredths of a second faster than Finn Matias Laine.

Day two started under cloudy and cold conditions on a wet track with drivers having trouble coming to grips with the slippery circuit. The morning saw five red flag incidents that put a damper on the first session and Evans stayed out of trouble biding his time until after the lunch break.

His patience paid off, and he was soon the fastest driver on track and improved his day one time to a 1:50:1secs. With only 45 minutes to go, the rain began to fall and as the session came to a close Evans was ahead of the the pack again.

"We had two days of really successful testing, coming out on top on both days," said Evans.

"It's given us great confidence heading into the first race. The team has already stripped the car down in preparation for Barcelona and there's a lot of work to be done yet.

"We want to maximise the most we can get at the start of the season so we're doing a lot of work now. I can't wait for the first race."

GP3 Series is next on track when the 2012 campaign begins at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona on May 11 to 13.

Morocco win for van der Drift
New Zealand open wheel racer Chris van der Drift continues to prove he's the go-to man if a team wants points on the board and wins.

The Kiwi won the second race of the Marrakech Auto GP weekend in Morocco with a great performance giving him his first win of the season and keeping him in fourth place on the table after three rounds.

He and his team-mate Daniel de Jong were the only drivers to start on a full set of new soft tyres and were able to opt for a late pit-stop strategy that was the key to success.

"A big one, that's sure. You know, we're still learning how to make the most of the Kumho tyres, and in this race we had a supersoft spec that we never tried before, so it wasn't easy," said van der Drift on the Auto GP site.

"Yesterday we were caught a bit by surprise by the tyre wear, but we knew that today was going to be different. The soft compound worked really well, I could push as much as I wanted for 16 laps, and it was amazing.

"It's my first success after that huge crash with Superleague, mainly because after that stop I had some budget issues that didn't allow me to plan a proper season of racing. So being in Auto GP and getting a win is a great feeling, it means I haven't lost it."

Earlier van der Drift qualified fourth for race one and finished in that position.

- NZ Herald

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