Motorsport: Spanish eyes smile for Kiwi speedster

By Eric Thompson

Mitch Evans has desire and a new team behind his assault on the GP2 ladder.
Mitch Evans is determined to perform well at Barcelona this weekend.
Mitch Evans is determined to perform well at Barcelona this weekend.

New Zealander Mitch Evans is excited to be back in the single seater fray with a new team, Pertamina Campos Racing.

Evans had up-and-down seasons with Russian Time last year where, if the car was in the window, he was a front-runner and managed to pick up seven podiums including two race wins to finish the championship fifth.

His new outfit, which starts the GP2 championship this weekend in Barcelona, has a robust pedigree in the series, having won the championship in 2008 and finishing fourth and sixth in the past two years.

"This is another opportunity to go for the championship with a different team," said Evans. "I'm looking forward to racing this weekend on a track that most of us have spent so much time on.

"It's probably one of the most used tracks in Europe and I've had some pretty good success here in the past getting on the podium [second last year] and getting pole in GP3.

"I want to start the season off well and get some good points in the bag early on.

"Adapting to a new team, the culture, and how everyone works is a bit tough, but everyone's been great. It's the detail that's hardest to learn quickly in a new environment.

"They have a lot of history and are well respected and I hope we have a good season and I can make a contribution and we challenge for the championship. Practice was solid but I wished it had been a bit better."

During the off-season Evans and his management were hoping to seal a deal in another category.

Unfortunately because of the ever-changing landscape in motorsport, and of course a number of very large chequebooks and deep pockets, a deal couldn't be finalised.

As ever the consummate professional racer, Evans took the opportunity to again contest the GP2 series and is looking to improve on last year.

"GP2 is the best place to be [race] if you're not with a manufacturer or in F1. To be honest I can't complain and GP2 is still the pinnacle of junior Formula motorsport.

"It's a great opportunity to progress my career and I'm going to make the most of it," he said.

Looking down the list of the 22 (out of 24) named drivers, it looks like 2016 could be one of the most highly contested seasons for the race for the title in 12 years of GP2. With just six rookies in the field, the rest of the field has 10 drivers who have finished on various spots on the podium.

Evans' main threats will come from the likes of Jordan King, Alex Lynn, Raffaele Marciello, Sergey Sirotkin, Arthur Pic and Pierre Gasly. Never one to shy away from a challenge, the 21-year-old Kiwi is looking forward to mixing it up with some of the best junior open wheel racers in Europe.

"It's going to be bloody tough this year, I can tell you. There are some really good drivers and teams and the competitiveness is going to be at the highest level. It'll keep everyone on their toes and I'm hoping to get some good results this year.

"If I can get something that works underneath me I'll be just as competitive as everyone else. It's the same for everyone, though; the trick is to get a consistently quick car. However, in this championship it is so difficult not to be up-and-down and so few teams manage to keep things up there most of the time.

"It'll be a hard year but I'm looking forward to it and when the car's working well I'll be up the front and scoring as many points as possible," he said.

The circuit layout is quite demanding with a surface that is hard on tyres, increasing degradation and making tyre management a vital part of race strategy. Pirelli have selected hard and soft compounds for the races over the weekend.

- NZ Herald

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