Evans had stormed through from eighth on the grid to lead the race before his pit stop. In spite of his dramas in the pits, the Auckland teenager was soon closing fast on race leader Sam Bird.
With 12 laps to go in the 29 lap race, Evans was just 5 seconds behind Bird and closing at a second each lap. However, the speed sensors in his car had failed during the pit stop which meant his 60kph speed limiter did not work.
Evans was ordered back into the pits on lap 18 for a 10 second stop-and-go penalty which dropped the New Zealander down to 19that the finish."When I came back out from the pit stop Bird was only 4.5 seconds down the road and I was catching him fast. Our car was very quick today and without the problem we could have won,” said Evans.
His confidence was confirmed by the lap times because Evans set the fastest lap of the race; a time that was 2.6 seconds faster than the best lap of eventual race winner Bird. However, the bonus points for fastest lap require the driver to finish in the top ten so Evans was denied for a second time at the British Grand Prix round.
"The failure of the speed sensors was a freaky thing to happen – I’m sure we could have won if we hadn’t had the problem, said Evans.
His Arden International car set the eighth fastest time during the qualifying session on Friday. The 30 minute session was effectively halved by rain but Evans was pleased with the set up of his Arden International car.
The weather had cleared for the Saturday afternoon Feature race and Evans opted to start on the harder compound prime tyres. Most of the others at the front of the 26-car field chose to do a shorter first stint on the softer option tyres.
Although Evans was slower off the line on his harder tyres and lost a couple of places into Copse Corner, he picked clever lines during a frantic scramble for places on the opening lap.
Evans had charged up to sixth place at the end of the first lap and was showing impressive speed. "We really had pace, the car was mega,” he said.
By lap 8 Evans was up to third place as the cars that had started on the softer tyres peeled off for their pit stops. When Stephane Richelmi, who had also started on the harder compound, pitted on lap 13, Evans took over the lead.
The Kiwi led the race for the next two laps and was clearly showing he had the speed to win. Unfortunately, his challenge ended at the white line that should have triggered the 60kph speed limiter entering the pit road.
"It was confusing. The wheel speed sensors that activate the limiter failed. The data was saying I was doing zero kph so the power came in and I was suddenly getting wheelspin. It felt very weird.”
"I knew straight away there was a problem because the power was cutting in and out as I went down the pit road. It was freaky and I have no idea why it happened during that first stop.
Ironically, the senors correctly activated the limiter when Evans came back into the pits to serve his penalty, and worked again when he stopped for a third time late in the race.
The team wisely decided to switch him to a set of the soft compound tyres so they could preserve the little-used second set of hard compound tyres for the Sunday Sprint race. He set fastest lap on the soft tyres on lap 22.
"Our plan to go deep into the race on the harder tyre – and to use two sets of hard tyres – was good. Our pace was excellent. I was able to pass Coletti and I was catching Sam Bird.”
With no points from the Feature race, Evans drops from seventh the ninth in the GP2 points standings. His second GP2 race at the British Grand Prix is at 20.30 (NZ Time) tonight.
Sam Bird survived to win his third GP2 race of the year beating Stephane Richelmi by 2.4 seconds. A chaotic race had a frantic start, as poleman Marcus Ericsson looked to have made a good getaway to lead Felipe Nasr, while Bird made a relatively poor start from second.
But third-placed starter Nasr drew right alongside Ericsson at Village, where Ericsson ran the Brazilian off the track. They then touched at The Loop as Nasr rejoined, just as Bird repassed third-placed Stefano Coletti. Bird rocketed from fourth to first.
He then pulled out an advantage over Coletti as the pitstop cycle began, but his lead was eroded when he encountered traffic. Bird worked his way through the queue well and managed his lead to the finish.
Behind him, there was more chaos, through which Richelmi came out best. After running a long first stint, his fresher rubber stood him in good stead in the closing stages. He passed Coletti at Club, which meant the points leader was now prone to a charging Tom Dillmann, who had switched to the softer tyre for the final stint.
After a tremendous battle, Coletti's defence finally wilted when he ran wide at Club, allowing Dillmann through. Fabio Leimer then attacked Coletti, and they collided at The Loop, putting Coletti out.
Issued by Murray Taylor on behalf of Mitch Evans Motorsport
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