Mitch Evans showed Kiwi fans his world-class speed as he raced with his brother Simon Evans in the BNT NZ SuperTourers races at Hampton Downs over the weekend of January 31–February 1.
Simon enjoyed the perfect weekend, winning all three races, while younger brother Mitch finished second for the round at the Rush Security Waikato 250 meeting, with two second placings on Saturday, January 31, and a fourth on Sunday, February 1.
The remarkable thing is that Mitch Evans, 20, has concentrated entirely on single-seaters in his racing career, which has seen him with the GP3 championship and win races in GP2 — the category immediately below Formula One, which remains his goal.
“I’d never driven a ‘tintop’ racing car until Friday, and I’d never driven it in the wet until this afternoon’s race,” Auckland-based Mitch said after his impressive performance in the seven-litre Smeg Commodore, sister car to Simon’s.
“It’s good to prove I can be quite a versatile driver. We’ve had a lot of things thrown at us this weekend and I’m pretty satisfied.”
Having convincingly won Saturday’s opening encounter, Sunday morning’s slightly damp race saw Simon start from pole and Mitch from fourth. On the second corner Mitch drove around the outside of two other drivers, right on the very edge of the track, and took over second place.
Behind him, chaos erupted as Dominic Storey started to slide, and multiple collisions forced him, Andre Heimgartner, and Australian Tony D’Alberto out of the race. Mitch took a hit that pushed him even wider, with two wheels on the grass, but he kept control of his car.
Mitch got faster and faster as the race progressed, setting the fastest lap, and finished six-tenths of a second behind his brother. Tim Edgell came third, saying his car was about three-tenths of a second off the Evans’ pace.
Simon said it had been quite funny seeing Mitch in his mirrors.
“It was really tough actually,” he said. “The track didn’t look slippery but for the amount of rain there was, it was really greasy.”
In the afternoon’s fully wet race, Simon quickly established a useful gap on the field. Again Mitch got faster and faster and he came home about a second behind Simon.
“At the start I had no idea what to expect from the car,” Mitch said. “It was all good fun.”
All weekend the experienced Simon — who now has a big lead in the championship — gave advice to his brother and shared the data from his car.
“We have a pretty solid relationship,” Simon said after the brothers hugged at the end of the final race. “I knew he was always going to be quick.
“I made a mistake at turn five, the downhill hairpin, in the wet race and went on the grass — just as Mitch was getting his rhythm. It was pretty even after that.”
Heimgartner finished third in the final race and stands second in the championship, 225 points behind Simon Evans. The young Aucklander now returns to his Australian base to prepare for his first full season in the main V8 Supercars championship.
Effectively Edgell is third, a further 170 points further back, with Richard Moore fourth — just 11 points behind Edgell.
Mitch Evans’ appearance was a one-off and he now heads back to Europe for a third season in GP2. The next two rounds of the championship will be in the South Island in March, at Ruapuna (Christchurch) and Levels (Timaru).
Photographer Lyall Chinnery was in amongst all the action at Hampton Downs and has put together a gallery of images from the event below: