Kiwi driver at fore­front of E class on the rise

Weekend Herald - - Motoring - Eric Thomp­son

Evans look­ing for­ward to im­proved sea­son with Jaguar in For­mula E class which is rapidly gain­ing trac­tion among many of the world’s lead­ing car man­u­fac­tur­ers F

or­mula E is now in its fourth sea­son and has firmly es­tab­lished it­self as a cham­pi­onship to watch.

Sure, the cars sound like an­gry vac­uum clean­ers with some­thing stuck in the noz­zle but it’s prob­a­bly no worse than the cur­rent For­mula One cars.

The se­ries has many of the ma­jor car man­u­fac­tur­ers back­ing teams, with the likes of Porsche get­ting in­volved in the near fu­ture.

The ma­jor point of dif­fer­ence For­mula E has over any other form of mo­tor­sport ( other than DTM) is that ev­ery driver is paid by the teams to race.

That’s right; it’s not the size of a driver’s bank ac­count that will get them a seat, rather the size of his or her tal­ent.

Last sea­son’s new­comer, Pana­sonic Jaguar Rac­ing Team, signed young New Zealan­der Mitch Evans for the 2016- 17 sea­son and he’s been re­tained for the 2017- 18 cham­pi­onship, which kicks off this week­end on the streets of Hong Kong.

Al­though a rookie last sea­son in a fledg­ling team that spent most of the se­ries on the back foot, Evans was ranked one of the top 10 drivers.

“Just in the 14 months since my first race in For­mula E, it’s grown so fast,” said Evans from Hong Kong.

“It’s get­ting very big, very quickly, and ev­ery­one in the cham­pi­onship is get­ting re­ally ex­cited to see where it’s head­ing. It’s all very pos­i­tive at the mo­ment, with all the big man­u­fac­tur­ers get­ting in­volved.

“A lot of peo­ple didn’t take it very se­ri­ously when it first started, but a lot of views are chang­ing now, es­pe­cially with drivers. All the drivers are paid pro­fes­sion­als and the rac­ing is at a very high level.

“The qual­ity of the drivers is so high and ev­ery driver in the cham­pi­onship is world class. It’s get­ting to the stage now, there i s so much de­mand from the driver mar­ket to get into For­mula E.

“There are queues of drivers try­ing to break into For­mula E, it’s that good, which in turn goes to show just how highly re­garded and pop­u­lar the cham­pi­onship is.

“I re­ally en­joy the rac­ing and I’m lov­ing it. We get to race in the mid­dle of some in­cred­i­ble, big and iconic cities.”

Evans has a new team­mate in Nel­son Pi­quet jnr this year. The Brazil­ian has a well re­garded CV, hav­ing raced in For­mula One, GP2, A1GP, Nascar and Global Rally Cross.

He brings a wealth of For­mula E ex­pe­ri­ence to the new team, hav­ing won the first For­mula E cham­pi­onship in 2014.

“It’s great to have Nel­son on board as he brings a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence to the team we were lack­ing last sea­son. It’s not that we don’t have the right peo­ple in the team, it’s just that we were all new at the same time.

“We were all try­ing to help each other but we had no one whose brains we could pick who had been in an­other team, or sea­son be­fore.

“To get some­one like Nel­son in­volved has been re­ally help­ful, as he has dif­fer­ent ideas at times.

“On a per­sonal level, it will be great to work with him and I can evolve even more by rac­ing with him and I hope we can share a lot of suc­cess this sea­son,” said Evans.

The Kiwi and his team will be look­ing to make a big leap for­ward this sea­son, as they will now have a car on a par with the rest of field.

In Jaguar’s first tilt at the cham­pi­onship, they were late to the party and had lit­tle devel­op­ment time. As a re­sult, they were con­sis­tently play­ing catch- up us­ing older and, for them, untested pow­er­trains.

“There’s been a big change with the car. We’ve got a whole new pow­er­train and ev­ery­thing that could be changed within the reg­u­la­tions has been changed. I think over 200 com­po­nents have been changed on the car and it’s look­ing a lot more pos­i­tive for this sea­son.

“Test­ing seemed to go all right and we were com­fort­ably in­side the top 10. Hong Kong is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent cir­cuit, as it’s quite short and tight. We’ll just have to see how we go dur­ing prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing.

“It’s not my favourite cir­cuit, but the team has grown so much over the past 12 months and we’re look­ing for­ward to go­ing rac­ing this week­end and get­ting some good re­sults,” he said.

TVNZ has re­cently taken the op­por­tu­nity to show the races live for the 2017- 18 sea­son.

A lot of peo­ple didn’t take it very se­ri­ously when it first started, but a lot of views are chang­ing now, es­pe­cially with drivers. All the drivers are paid pro­fes­sion­als and the rac­ing is at a very high level. Mitch Evans on For­mula E

Pic­ture / Photosport

Mitch Evans prac­tises tai chi in the build- up to the open­ing round of For­mula E in Hong Kong.

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