Mitch Evans will make his sportscar, FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans debut in one fell swoop this year when he competes for JOTA Sport in the British team’s two-race WEC assault.
The 20-year-old New Zealander, the protégé of ex-Formula One race winner and Porsche factory driver Mark Webber, contests the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (2 May) and the Le Mans 24 Hours (13-14 June).
Evans joins JOTA’s European Le Mans Series regulars Simon Dolan and Nick Yelloly in the two WEC races. Filipe Albuquerque, who competes with Dolan and Yelloly in the ELMS, is committed to Audi Sport Team Joest for the Belgian and French WEC races.
JOTA Sport achieved a praiseworthy second and then a brilliant first placing in the corresponding Spa and Le Mans races respectively last year.
Evans had his first taste of the Gibson in a test last month (24 Feb) at the Aragón circuit. Yelloly and Albuquerque were also present in Spain. Mitch, who will also contest a full season of GP2 again this year, joins former single-seater race winners Harry Tincknell, Oliver Turvey and Yelloly in switching to the sportscar category with JOTA Sport.
Meanwhile ex-F1 drivers Marc Gené, Stefan Johansson, Jan Lammers, John Neilsen, Hideki Noda and Alex Yoong have all raced for the British team. Other notable JOTA "pilots” include Chris Buncombe, Sam Hancock, Haruki Kurosawa and Lucas Luhr.
"I’ve never raced a sportscar and only drove one for the very first time last month but I don’t see this an issue,” said Mitch. "I'll use my single-seater experience to get to grips with the LM P2 sports-prototype as fast as possible. I've followed sportscar racing for many years and Le Mans has always been on my ‘bucket list’.
"My aim at Spa will be to learn this new style of racing and gaining experience with driver changes. For Le Mans, the goal will be to help JOTA win LM P2 again.
"I visited Le Mans for the first time last year and honestlydidn't realise the size of the event – in terms of the track itself and the spectacle as a whole. I'd watched it previously on television butyou cannot appreciate the magnitude of the event until you actually visit the place. Ican't wait toexperience my first laps around there at the test in May. I am so excited and can't wait to get started.”
Simon Dolan (GB). Age 45. Born: Chelmsford, Essex. Lives: Monaco (MC):
"I’m very excited to welcome Mitch to JOTA Sport. Hopefully he will help us in successfully defending our Le Mans LM P2 title. He is without doubt one of the best young single-seater drivers out there. With a proven track record of speed and bringing a car home in one piece. I’m sure he’ll adjust quickly to sportscar racing and I am certain he’ll fit in with JOTA Sport immediately.”
Nick Yelloly (GB). Age: 24. Born: Cannock, Staffordshire. Lives: Solihull, West Midlands:
"I’ve been friends with Mitch since 2011 when we were both racing in the GP3 Series that year. We’ve been on the same GP2 and GP3 ‘bills’ in recent years so we’ve often seen each other around and about. Mitch will be a great addition to the JOTA team for Spa and Le Mans when Filipe [Albuquerque] is committed to Audi. Mitch is quick, sensible and is a good racer. The transition into working with each other as team-mates, even though it’s for only two races, will be straight forward and seamless. I have no doubt that he will be a great asset to JOTA.”
Sam Hignett. Partner, JOTA Group:
"I’m delighted to have Mitch joining the team for our two FIA World Endurance Championship races of the year. I’m certain he will be a competent and worthy substitute for Filipe who competes in these two races for Audi Sport Team Joest.
"Mitch’s speed and ability are evident from his GP2 and GP3 performances. Mark Webber is Mitch’s mentor so I’m sure he will pass on some knowledge and general information about sportscar racing before Mitch gets in to our Gibson at Spa and Le Mans.”