Speed­show

Motor Equipment News - - CONTENTS - By Bernard Carpin­ter.

the Bri­tish Grand Prix meet­ing at Silverstone in Eng­land. Mitch Evans won the fea­ture race in GP2 – the cat­e­gory im­me­di­ately below For­mula One – and Richie Stan­away won the GP3 sprint race.

Auck­lan­der Evans, now 20, won the GP3 cham­pi­onship in 2012, and is in his sec­ond sea­son of GP2. Com­ing into Silverstone, his best re­sult this year had been a fourth in the sprint race at the Aus­trian GP. At Silverstone he qual­i­fied third for the fea­ture race, which takes place on the Satur­day of a For­mula 1 week­end.

Evans said his Rus­sian Time team had made a break­through in find­ing a good setup for that al­limpor­tant qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion.

“Qual­i­fy­ing’s been a weak point for us dur­ing the sea­son for a num­ber of rea­sons, but we just haven’t found the sweet spot all year for that,” he said. “In free prac­tice this morn­ing it was head­ing that way again, we weren’t too com­pet­i­tive, but we kind of turned the car on its head for qual­i­fy­ing.”

Pole went to Fer­rari Academy driver Raf­faele Mar­ciello, who – like many of the lead­ing sin­gle­seater driv­ers in Europe – has raced in New Zealand’s Toy­ota Rac­ing Se­ries, while cham­pi­onship leader Jolyon Palmer was sec­ond-fastest.

The GP2 cars are iden­ti­cal me­chan­i­cally, and are very se­ri­ous ma­chin­ery. The four-litre, nor­mally as­pi­rated V8 puts out 456kW, the min­i­mum weight in­clud­ing driver is 688kg, max­i­mum speed is 332km/h, and ac­cel­er­a­tion from zero to 200km/h takes just 6.6 sec­onds. The six-speed se­quen­tial Hew­land gear­box is op­er­ated by a pad­dle shift on the steer­ing wheel. Driv­ers who win here are strong can­di­dates to move up into F1.

The fea­ture race was run in damp con­di­tions, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for teams to choose the best strat­egy. The for­mat for the fea­ture race in­cludes a com­pul­sory pit stop to change tyres, and dur­ing the race each car must use the two dif­fer­ent types of slicks: the prime and the op­tion, which is softer and there­fore has more grip, but will not last as long. Teams had to make ed­u­cated guesses as to when to take the pit stop, and whether to run the op­tions first or sec­ond.

Mar­ciello seized the lead from the start, mak­ing the most of his pole po­si­tion, and pulled away as he had elected to start on the grip­pier op­tion tyres, while Palmer and Evans had fit­ted the primes. Evans got past Palmer on the first lap to grab sec­ond, but later made a mis­take that al­lowed the Bri­tish driver back in front of him. Then Mar­ciello car stopped with a me­chan­i­cal fail­ure, and Evans was now bat­tling for the lead with Palmer.

When Palmer made his pit stop, Evans stayed out for one more lap and put in an ex­tra ef­fort to make that lap as fast as pos­si­ble. His team pulled off a par­tic­u­larly quick pit stop, and he came out just in for a lit­tle while till his tyres came up to op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­ture, but then he was able to draw away and record his break­through first vic­tory in GP2. That lifted him to fourth in the cham­pi­onship.

“The last 18 months have been re­ally tricky for us, for me and my fam­ily, and it’s a huge relief for ev­ery­thing to come to­gether fi­nally for my first win in GP2,” Evans said. “It’s been far too long, but I’m re­ally, re­ally happy to fi­nally get the mon­key off my back, and hope­fully it’s not the last one of the sea­son!

“Af­ter Jolyon got me I got into a good rhythm and was able to stay with the guys and have a crack when it came to the pit stop. For­tu­nately the guys gave me a good car and I was able to stay with Jolyon and make it work, and had a great pit stop from the guys, which has been a bit of an Achilles heel for us.”

The Rus­sian Time team has new staff this year, fol­low­ing a man­age­ment change. The new crew mem­bers have come from the iSport out­fit, which pulled out of GP2 at the start of last year.

The sprint race on the Sun­day starts with the top eight from race one in re­verse order, so Evans was down to eighth on the grid. Over­tak­ing is dif­fi­cult at one spot, to fin­ish seventh.

Evans and his fam­ily are well known to New Zealand fans. His fa­ther Owen was a fast driver of turbo Porsches, and his older brother Si­mon is a lead­ing driver in V8 Su­perTour­ers.

Mitch Evans twice won the Toy­ota Rac­ing Se­ries, and he has also won the New Zealand Grand Prix. He has en­joyed con­sid­er­able fi­nan­cial sup­port from the Gil­trap Group, and has ben­e­fit­ted from men­tor­ing by for­mer F1 driver Mark Web­ber.

Stan­away, 22, and orig­i­nally from Tau­ranga, is less well-known in New Zealand be­cause af­ter win­ning the For­mula Ford cham­pi­onship he headed off to Europe at a young age. He was very suc­cess­ful in Ger­many, dom­i­nat­ing a lower-level cham­pi­onship, and then win­ning the Ger­man F3 cham­pi­onship.

He was picked up by the Lo­tus team, who placed him in its young driver devel­op­ment pro­gramme and a seat in the high-level For­mula Re­nault 3.5 cham­pi­onship. Stan­away might well have been on the way to For­mula 1, but in mid-2012 he suf­fered a big crash in the wet at Spa, when a slow car sud­denly ma­te­ri­alised from the the spray in front of him. The Kiwi's car flew through the air and landed heav­ily, break­ing ver­te­brae in his back.

Af­ter fight­ing his way back to fit­ness Stan­away again es­tab­lished him­self as a ris­ing star, and gained a place in Aston Martin’s GT team. This year he is also con­test­ing the GP3 cham­pi­onship with the Sta­tus GP team, and has also made a tem­po­rary re­turn to For­mula Re­nault 3.5 with Lo­tus, fill­ing in for an in­jured driver and fin­ish­ing third in the Moscow race.

At Silverstone Stan­away qual­i­fied only seventh and fin­ished in that po­si­tion in Satur­day’s fea­ture race. That gave him a front-row start for Sun­day’s sprint race, and he made full use of it, seiz­ing the ini­tial lead as pole-sit­ter Dino Zam­par­elli bogged down at the start.

Emil Bern­storff chal­lenged the Kiwi Briefly, but Stan­away held on, and then Bern­storff came un­der at­tack from Stan­away’s team-mate Nick Yel­loly. Yel­loly got past and stayed close to the leader, but could not mount a se­ri­ous chal­lenge so Stan­away won his sec­ond GP3 race, and his first for 2014.

“It was an awe­some day for us, ob­vi­ously a one-two for the team, which is per­fect,” Stan­away said. “We have re­ally turned the car around and quite rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent to where we’ve been al­ready this year. It’s work­ing for usm and we’ve got it to where we need to be. We had a messy qual­i­fy­ing which kind of ruined our Satur­day as we were pretty quick for the ma­jor­ity of the ses­sion, but we got messed up when the track dried up.

“To­day I had a bril­liant start and got into the lead. I had a bit of pres­sure from Emil on the first lap, but I was pretty des­per­ate to stay in the lead. I haven’t won a race in three years, and it’s been pretty frus­trat­ing to go that long with­out win­ning a race.

“We have been very con­sis­tent, and I think we can start to smash it out of the park in the mid­dle phase of the year,” Stan­away said. He then held third in the cham­pi­onship, 20 points be­hind Bri­tish driver Alex Lynn.

A third Kiwi also shone at Silverstone. Earl bam­ber from Wan­ganui, a one-time mem­ber of New Zealand’s A1GP team, claimed third in the Porsche Su­percup race, main­tain­ing his sec­ond po­si­tion in the se­ries.

Mitch Evans cel­e­brates on the podium af­ter win­ning the GP2 race at Silverstone.

Richie Stan­away leads team-mate Nick Yel­loly on his way to win­ning his GP3 race at Silverstone.

Richie Stan­away holds his tro­phy for win­ning the GP3 sprint race at Silverstone.

Mitch Evans cel­e­brates on the podium af­ter win­ning the GP2 race at Silverstone.

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