Kiwi hot prospect Mitches it up with GP2's best

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 24/03/2013

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Kiwi motor-racing ace Mitch Evans expressed satisfaction with his difficult GP2 debut after he finished 10th in the season-opener in Malaysia yesterday.

The 18-year-old Aucklander is stepping up a division after winning the GP3 title last year and has made an instant impact.

He set his initial goal to get among the points and his placing achieved that, with the top 10 drivers sharing the spoils.

Evans had problems in the buildup to the race, battling food poisoning, which certainly wouldn't have helped him in the hot conditions in the one-hour, 31-lap race at the 5.543km Sepang circuit, which is hosting the Malaysian Grand Prix.

And he had difficulties with his car as well, though he cast those aside last night as he reflected on his first drive in such impressive company.

"I struggled a bit with the car balance all race, so I dropped back a bit. But I'm satisfied to be in the points on my debut," Evans said.

He had stunned the field at qualifying on Friday by claiming fifth fastest time - the best of the rookies.

And he made a strong start to yesterday's race, getting up to third at one stage before slowly falling back.

After 14 laps he had slipped to 11th. But he battled hard, determined to stay with the top 10 and get among the points.

He also had the satisfaction of finishing ahead of his Arden International team-mate Johnny Cecotto, who crossed the line in 12th place.

There were 26 starters in the race with 21 of them finishing.

Switzerland's Fabio Leimer won the race in a tight battle with James Calado and Stefano Coletti, who had started from pole. Evans finished 73.730s behind Leimer. His eighth lap was his best at 1:49.363.

Sam Bird produced the fastest lap of 1:48.777 as he battled back from a drive-through penalty for overtaking under yellow flags to eventually finish seventh.

The GP2 cars have a second race today as the curtainraiser to the Formula One, with the top eight finishers in the points.

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