Motorsport: Evans plugs on after slow start

By Eric Thompson

After a muddling start to the season, Kiwi driver Mitch Evans is looking to get points on the board in his electric-driven Jaguar in Argentina this weekend.
After a muddling start to the season, Kiwi driver Mitch Evans is looking to get points on the board in his electric-driven Jaguar in Argentina this weekend.

New Zealand factory pilot Mitch Evans is in Argentina this weekend for round three of the FIA Formula E championship. The Panasonic Jaguar racing driver will hit the streets of Buenos Aires at the Puerto Madero circuit for the first time and is looking forward to taking it on, despite only experiencing it on a simulator.

"It's going to be a bit tough, as the others are going to be a bit further ahead and will hit the ground running a bit better than us," said Evans after touching down in Argentina.

"That's the way it is and I've been watching the last two races here from past seasons. The track looks great and produces really good racing, with a number of passing opportunities.

"The race is two laps longer this year - that will be really challenging for all of us, with the high ambient temperatures and having to watch the battery temperatures."

Evans' introduction to the world of Formula E racing hasn't been the best. In Hong Kong and Marrakesh, he struggled to get to full race distance in either event.

"The first two rounds have been tough. At Hong Kong, we weren't able to finish a race due to mechanical issues with the second car, and in Marrakesh, getting punted off in lap one didn't help.

"The most important thing was to learn and gather a lot of data for the remainder of the championship.

"It's all part of growing as a team and continuing to take steps forward. We've just got to keep it rolling and have a good week in Argentina," he said.

Now in its third season, the FIA-backed world championship is becoming more popular. This is partly due to the fact it's raced on inner-city streets where there is already a captive audience.

The field is full of high-profile drivers who have tasted success in a number of other categories and are now going at it in electric vehicles.

Entrants include the likes of World Endurance Championship racer Loic Duval, former Formula One drivers Nick Heidfeld, Nelson Piquet Jr and Jean-Eric Vergne and GT racing stalwart Maro Engel.

"The competition is extremely high from a driver's point of view. All these guys are top drivers, with a lot of ex-Formula One drivers and a lot of guys who should have been in Formula One," Evans said.

One of the more entertaining aspects of Formula E racing is that drivers have to change cars during the race. The battery technology isn't quite there yet to enable cars to go full race distances.

For many drivers, leaping in and out of a car isn't all that foreign, as they have had endurance racing experience. However, changing cars adds a new dimension.

"Having to change cars is obviously unique and something we are still trying to perfect. It's a bit of an art - I didn't get a chance to do it in Hong Kong, and in Marrakesh, we were a bit slow - I lost five seconds.

"The belts caused a bit of a problem for the mechanics but, if you get it right, you can make up quite a bit of time.

"Other than having to swap cars, the car itself is quite different to anything else I've driven. It's quite a bit heavier than a GP2 car [300kg], which takes a bit of getting used to," he said.

The Jaguar team has made Evans welcome and the concept he's now a fully fledged factory driver is starting to sink in. He and teammate Adam Carroll will hope to get points on the board to get their championship under way.

Pitstop

Karts lead way
Two of New Zealand's premier multi-round karting series headline the two-day Trans-Tasman Challenge meeting this weekend in Palmerston North. The main action will be in the Rotax Max Challenge for 125cc Rotax-engined karts, and the ProKart Series for six-speed gearbox-equipped 125cc KZ2 class machines.

Evans steps up
Gold Coast-based Kiwi racer Jaxon Evans is the latest young driver to dive into a Carrera Cup championship. The runner-up last year in the feeder Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia category is stepping up into the main Australian single make series in 2017.

Concern over WRC speed
The FIA said the WRC cars could be more powerful for 2017, but are now having second thoughts. At rally Sweden, the cars were averaging over 130km/h through some stages, which in the eyes of rally director Jarmo Mahonen was too fast. He wants to introduce a limit of 130km/h by making the stages trickier.

Vinales quickest in testing
Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales went quickest on the second day of MotoGP testing at Phillip Island. The Spaniard pipped reigning world champion Marc Marquez and was the only rider to get under 1m 29s. Casey Stoner showed he still has it as a Ducati test rider, finishing the day seventh fastest.

Patrick's team to sue sponsor
Danica Patrick's Nascar sponsorship is in a bit of a hole, with her team, Stewart Hass Racing, set to sue her sponsor Nature's Bakery for $43 million. The sponsor has reneged on the deal after accusing Patrick of allegedly being in breach of contact for promoting a rival product.

Under the hood

Just when you thought the machinations of Formula One's murky team payments at the end of the season might be a thing of the past, the European parliament has backed a call for an investigation into alleged anti-competition practices. The new owners of the category now have to deal with the gorilla in the corner where teams are paid hugely different amounts at the end of the season. Take, for example, Ferrari being paid a $182 million bonus - for what? They didn't win the driver's or the manufacturers championship.

2017 Calendar

February 18: Buenos Aires
April 1: Mexico City
May 13: Monaco
May 20: Paris
June 10: Berlin
July 1: Brussels*
July 15: New York City*
July 16: New York City*
July 29: Montreal*
July 30: Montreal*
*subject to confirmation

- NZ Herald

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