Simon Evans has usurped Sergio Jimenez in the Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy standings with a second-place finish in the season finale which was enough to seal his maiden drivers’ championship by a solitary point.
Evans came into the round well aware the title was on the line but after three of the opening four races he struggled to make any headway on runaway leader Jimenez.
However, that all changed once the Kiwi unlocked an incredible shift in pace when in turn redirected his championship assault by clinching three consecutive wins before playing a conservative, tactical finale to ensure he just finished ahead of his main rival.
The race itself was rather processional with Evans holding second off the line, trailing pole-sitter Caca Bueno home despite the Brazilian attempting to back the Kiwi into a lurking Jimenez.
Evans perhaps could have challenged for his fourth successive victory having shown great early race pace but kept the championship in mind and feigning a drop in performance to make it seem Bueno was doing enough to allow Jimenez to catch up.
“Unreal,” said an elated Evans. “I thought Sergio tapped the wall out of Turn 5 but I didn’t know what Caca was going to do.
“In the end he just tries to back me up so I was just trying to play it cool and make it look like I had no pace. In that last lap he was braking like 100 metres earlier than he needed too.
“It was just about thinking of the championship. I just wanted to run my own race…and we did it baby!”
Evans had suggested there was potentially more speed in the car after yesterday’s race win but there was a risk of going the wrong way in terms of setup.
Ultimately, the Asia New Zealand team opted to leave the car identical to what it had been before to avoid a slump in performance.
“No, we just rolled out exactly the same [car] as before,” admitted Evans.
“It was what we knew so no point changing that before qualifying.”
Bueno thus came within one point of stealing the championship in what would have been a podium tally tiebreaker.
The season one champion now leaves the sport for good with bittersweet emotions and the Brazilian was non too pleased with his car across the final four races.
“It is not my fault,” conceded Jimenez.
“The car just does not evolve so I did the best I could, but since race 6 my car did not have a good feeling.
“I did everything I could to catch him and that is it, it was what I could do.
“But second in the championship is not bad at all. Leading most of the championship and the guy with the most race victories, I am really happy. It is shame I couldn’t be champion for a second time but it is part of racing.”
Behind Jiminez, Alice Powell ended her time in the series with a fourth-place finish while Nick Foster completed the top five.
The Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy will not return for a third season meaning Evans becomes the sports second and final ever champion.
Jaguar had decided earlier in the year to cut funding for the series, citing the economic aftershocks of the global pandemic as the catalyst of the decision.