Evans: No pressure in McLaren ride

YOUNG GUN Jaxon Evans says he feels no pressure about being pushed further into the limelight at next year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour. 

The Queensland-based Kiwi driver starred in this year’s Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Championship and currently leads the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship with co-driver Tim Miles – but his 12-Hour debut next February will be his highest profile drive yet.

The 21-year-old was announced earlier this week as part of a strong Objective Racing McLaren entry into the race, sharing a 650s GT3 with Tony Walls, Tim Slade and Warren Luff.

Evans will fill the same seat that two years ago saw Matt Campbell thrust into the spotlight during qualifying for the race, and the eyes of both local team owners and overseas manufacturers alike.

“You’d be lying if you went into the race without taking the approach that ‘It’s an opportunity to show what I can do and how I am developing’,” Evans admitted.

“You have to take the opportunity when it arises because certainly there are some big names watching – but at the same time there’s no pressure on me to go and stick the thing on pole. Certainly I’ll be treating it like any normal race weekend and doing the best job I can for the team.”

With two seasons of GT3 Cup Challenge under his belt, Evans made his debut in both Carrera Cup and Australian GT competition this year, impressing in both.

He says the combined experienced gained in each series showcased his potential ahead of car owner Walls’ confirming he had the seat in the Objective McLaren.

“I definitely think both the solid results in Carrera Cup and the endurance element of this year have helped.

“It’s shown there’s raw speed but also consistent speeds over long distances and I hope that it what has allowed Wallsy to make that call, or at least make it easy for him.

“Bathurst is all about being able to strong consistent laps together without making mistakes and that kind of racing tests you in a different aspect. You’ve got to stay focused and the less mistakes, the better.”

Having worked on the car as a mechanic during this year’s race, Evans said he was confident the Objective Racing McLaren would again be a force to be reckoned with next February.

“The car is strong. It always has good speed at the 12-hour even though the guys’ results haven’t been what they wanted.

“They’ve been been at pointy end when the car running on song and it’s exciting to be heading there in that car.

“To work and drive with ‘Luffy’ will be special because he has been a big part in my development as a driver though McElrea Racing, so to enter a race in same car is pretty cool. Sladey of course knows how to get it done: He’s fast and consistent in anything he drives so it’s a solid line up.

“Wallsy (Car owner Tony Walls) has come a long way,” Evans added.

“I’ve been been down there with team and they’ve been very impressed with his lap times considering his experience and time he gets in the car. He’s a very solid ‘Am’ driver.”

Evans and Tim Miles will aim to seal the Endurance Championship next weekend at Highlands Motorsport Park in New Zealand and explained that their approach was unlikely to change from previous outings.

The team won the first two rounds of the year on Aussie soil, then finished second last weekend at Hampton Downs – rebounding from a hefty crash in a torrentialy wet qualifying session.

“We approached Hampton like the first two – not trying to be conservative or to try a and roll off. If you do that, you’re more likely to make a mistake,” Evans said.

“Our approach to Highlands will be the same.

“The only difference will be that the championship is likely to be further forward in our minds so we just need to make as little mistakes as possible.

“You’d be lying to say you don’t want to win (the race). All things considering we’ll be a bit smarter with what we do and if we survive the weekend we can come out on top.”