Mitch Evans 'super pumped' for new season

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2014
Mitch Evans
Peter Meecham/FAIRFAX NZ
ON THE RISE: Mitch Evans has signed with defending champions Russian Time to race in this year's GP2 series.

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Kiwi motorsport ace Mitch Evans will be hoping a change of management won't affect the competitiveness of his new GP2 team, Russian Time.

The team announced Evans as its leading driver for this year's championship along with another 19-year-old, Russian Artem Markelov, who finished runner-up in last year's German Formula 3 championship.

Evans is on the move after his successful stint at British outfit Arden Racing which netted him the 2012 GP3 title and saw him finish 14th on debut in GP2 racing last year, including four podium finishes among the seven races he collected points in.

Evans' backers have been working hard to keep him on track and staying in GP2 is crucial, keeping him in the spotlight as the series is run as a curtainraiser at 11 Formula One meetings, starting with the Bahrain GP on April 4.

"I am super pumped for the season and cannot wait to get started," Evans said as Russian Time confirmed his drive.

"I can't thank the team enough for the opportunity. Time to get to work, we have a championship to win!"

GP2 have major testing sessions planned at Bahrain and Abu Dhabi next month.

Russian Time won the team championship last year but things have quickly changed.

The German-based team's future was thrown into disarray when Russian backer Igor Mazepa, 40, died unexpectedly this month from thrombosis complications.

Russian Time have now been taken over by iSport International, a British-based team that had to withdraw from the 2013 championship because of sponsorship problems.

Ironically, Mazepa gained his GP2 opportunity at iSport's expense last year. But now the wheel of fortune has turned full circle.

The key ingredient for Evans is that he has a high-profile team. Its new backers have a proud track record in this environment, winning the 2007 title and never finishing outside the top six in their eight-year GP2 involvement from 2005-12.

Both Evans and Markelov tested strongly with Russian Time during the off-season, doing enough to push their causes.

Evans' rookie year in the GP2 ranks last season was plagued by car issues. When the car setup was strong, Evans' aggressive driving was rewarded, including a double podium weekend at the prestigious Monaco meeting.

A couple of changes this year will help him - Friday practice sessions have been extended from 30 to 45 minutes and new tyre rules means cars will have to race on both compounds, bringing them into line with F1. 

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- Fairfax Media

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