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Mitch Evans becomes GP3 champion in dramatic finale

by Peter Allen

Photo: GP3 Media Service

Misfortune nearly robs Mitch Evans at the final round at Monza, but in the end Daniel Abt could not quite get the double victory he needed to deny the Kiwi…

Mitch Evans has taken the 2012 GP3 Series title in a dramatic season finale at Monza. The Kiwi boosted his already healthy points advantage when he took pole position on Saturday morning and the four points that come with it, but damaged sustained on the opening lap forced him into retirement from the penultimate race of the season. Chief rival Antonio Felix da Costa led the race until gearbox gremlins ruled him out of contention, allowing Daniel Abt to win the race and emerge as the only man who could stop Evans from winning the title.

The German still had a lot to do in Sunday morning’s race though, as he had to win from eighth on the grid. He was up to fourth by the end of the first lap and by lap six he was into the lead and provisionally winning the championship. Evans meanwhile was producing the drive of a champion, coming from 25th and last on the grid and as he moved into eighth place to claim the point he needed, he suffered a puncture. The ball was back in Abt’s park, but he came under extreme pressure from a fast Tio Ellinas, who would ultimately prove to be too strong. Abt had to settle for second, handing the title to Evans, who finished the race 20th and last.

A protege of the MW Arden co-owner Mark Webber, Evans made a strong impression in his rookie season in GP3 in 2011, winning just his third race in Europe at Barcelona. One race weekend later and he was in the championship lead, even if some misfortune would see him fall to ninth in the final standings.

He entered 2012 as the overwhelming pre-season favourite, and promptly won the opening race of the season. He momentarily lost the championship lead after Monaco to Aaro Vainio, but was back ahead when he beat the Finn to a second win of the season in Valencia. He remained in the points lead until the finish, taking a third? win of the season in the reverse grid race at Hockenheim. His Monza pole was his fourth from eight qualifying sessions.

Like all GP3 graduates Evans will look for a move to GP2 next year, but it remains to be seen whether he will have the budget to do so. A Formula Renault 3.5 switch would be a worthy alternative.