Teen driver Evans wins debut race

Auckland schoolboy Mitchell Evans is touted as the next big thing in New Zealand motorsport and if you wanted to see why, you only had to venture to Teretonga at the weekend.

The 15-year-old St Kentigern College student emulated the achievements of Brendon Hartley on Saturday by becoming just the second driver to win a Toyota Racing Series race on debut after holding off Estonian Sten Pentus. In the second race of the round yesterday, he led for the majority of the race before encountering mechanical problems late in the race to end up second.

Last year, he finished up second overall in the New Zealand Formula Ford championship, but he said he felt like a new challenge this year and graduated up to the Toyota Racing Series class.

"I didn't really want to do Formula Ford again," Evans said.

"I wanted to get some further experience in these sorts of cars. I got a dispensation to drive. It's a grade I've always wanted to be a part of."

Evans harbours aspirations to one day race in Formula One and if you check out his accomplishments in the last year it would take a brave man to beat against the youngster.

He finished second in his debut season in the Australian Formula Ford championship and racked up such honours as highest placed rookie on debut, youngest to win a national Australian race and the youngest to win a national Australian round. Then in November, he made further headlines when he became the youngest winner of an Australian Formula Three race when he took out the final race of the season at Melbourne's Sandown Raceway.

If all that was not enough he was then named young driver of the year by the Driver Data Base website and also placed third in the driver of the year poll behind star Formula One drivers Jenson Button and Sebastien Vettel.

"To be nominated for that was fantastic," Evans said.

"To be voted young driver of the year and third for driver of the year was crazy. I've got a lot of people to thank for that."

What is most staggering about all this is that Evans has only just completed his fourth form year at high school. He said juggling his passion for motorsport with his schoolwork was not an easy task.

"It's pretty difficult. I go away for one test (drive) and miss three days. I missed quite a few weeks last year. It comes to exams at the end of the year and you struggle a bit."

Ask Evans what his ultimate ambition for the future is and he doesn't need any time for a reponse.

"My main goal is to be a professional racing driver. I want to do Formula One like everyone else. I want to give it a good shot."

Evans success in motorsport does not come as much surprise if you consider his pedigree. His father is Owen Evans – who set the New Zealand land speed record in a Porsche in 1996.

Once the Toyota Racing Series finishes up in March, Evans hopes to get back to Australia to race in the Formula Threes.

Just another step in his journey to eventually reach the lofty heights of Formula One.

The Southland Times