Evans clinches GP3 title
New Zealander takes title by two points after thrilling conclusion
By William Esler. Last Updated: 09/09/12 12:03pm
Mitch Evans: GP3 Champion (Image: GP3 Series Media)
Mitch Evans claimed the GP3 Drivers' title, despite not scoring in either race at the final round after a thrilling conclusion to the Series.
The MW Arden driver headed to Monza leading the Championship, with Antonio Felix da Costa, Aaro Vainio and Daniel Abt the only drivers who could deny the New Zealander glory.
Evans made the perfect start to the weekend, putting the car on pole and with it collecting the four points on offer in qualifying.
However, it all went wrong at turn one when he, along with Felix da Costa, were forced across the inside of the chicane, and over the rather large speed bumps on the run off. The impact broke Evans' steering forcing him back to the pits and out of the race.
Felix da Costa was also to run into difficulties, with the car getting stuck in sixth gear. Switching the car off and on again fixed the technical gremlin, but by then he was well down the order, eventually finishing 15th and ending his title challenge.
Action elsewhere on the track had been fierce, with Abt, the outsider in the title fight, working his way through the field to take the lead ahead of Tio Ellinas and Vainio.
That was how the top three crossed the line, but in his quest to score as many points as possible Vainio set his personal best final sector on the last lap - whilst there were yellow flags at the Parabolica. He was issued with a 20-second penalty, which dropped him to 11th, ending his title challenge, and promoting Matias Laine to the podium.
That meant heading into the final race, Abt trailed Evans by 14 points, and needed to win with the New Zealander not scoring more than one point to lift the title.
Things looked to favour the German who lined up eighth on the reverse grid, with Evans plum last in 25th.
The New Zealander made a lightening start, and within a couple of laps was up to 12th, but Abt had jumped from eighth for fourth, before picking off Marlon Stockinger and David Fumanelli to go second.
Evans fought his way up to 10th, setting the fastest lap in the process he had the two points he needed to take the title, but disaster struck once again when a puncture forced him to limp back to the pits, falling to 20th, meaning he lost the two points for fastest lap.
It set the race up for a nail-biting finale, with Abt hunting down Ellinas at the front, and when the German got past he looked set to add the Drivers' Championship to the Teams' title Lotus had picked up the previous day.
The Marussia Manor driver wasn't going to give up on his maiden win without a fight, though, and with two laps to go retook the lead and held on to take victory. Abt picked up 12 points for second as Evans took the title by two points. Giovanni Venturini completed the podium.
British driver Alice Powell finished eighth to achieve her first points of the season - making history as the first female to score points at a GP3 event. Fellow Brit Alex Brundle completed the top 10.
Final Drivers' Standings
1. Mitch Evans (NZL) - MW Arden - 151.5
2. Daniel Abt (GER) - Lotus - 149.5
3. Antonio Felix da Costa (POR) - Carlin - 132
4. Aaro Vainio (FIN) - Lotus - 123
5. Matias Laine (FIN) - MW Arden - 111
15. William Buller (GBR) - Carlin - 20
16. Alex Brundle (GBR) - Carlin - 19
17. Lewis Williamson (GBR) - Status - 11
19. Alice Powell (GBR) - Status - 1