Simon Evans is excited to take the 2021 Best Bars Toyota 86 championship fight to Rowan Shepherd and Ryan Wood in this weekend’s season finale.
All three drivers can etch their names onto the championship trophy come to the end of the three-race weekend. Seven points separate the trio, with Evans currently third in the standings.
The multiple national champion expects another hotly fought tussle at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, a circuit he knows well.
But Evans says he isn’t going to let any pressure get to him in the lead-up to the weekend and will instead take each race as it comes.
“I’m feeling really relaxed ahead of the weekend,” Evans told Velocity News. “I am not putting any pressure on myself, or anything.
“It is now essentially a one-round shootout between me, Ryan and Rowan, and whoever can get atop of their car the best will win the championship.
“Taupo is also so different from any other track we visit. It is a lot more technical, especially that first half of the circuit. It is a fun track to drive and should be exciting to see who is fastest.”
Evans has picked up podiums in all but two races this season but is yet to maximise himself in qualifying.
He started the season at Hampton Downs with a sixth-place in qualifying before muscling himself up to second in the race.
Evans recorded his best qualifying result last round at Pukekohe, where he placed himself third on the grid.
Meanwhile, title protagonist Wood has clinched pole position at every round this season.
Evans says that to improve his chances of winning this year’s title, he first must ensure he executes a complete qualifying performance.
“We probably haven’t been as fast as we would have liked in qualifying,” he said.
“I only got my best qualifying result at the last round, which was third, so I need to work on qualifying better.
“We have been quick in the races, especially the reverse top-ten. I have won all of them except for at Manfeild when I had an ABS problem. Those have probably kept us in the championship hunt.
“But if I can work hard in practice and qualify better, then we should be in a chance.”
Evans is a world-class racer, winning both domestic and international titles. Last year he clinched the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy in a final-round showdown in Berlin.
While racing in the Toyota 86 was not what Evans initially chalked out to drive in 2021, he says he is enjoying the series, believing it is an ideal class for up-and-coming Kiwi drivers.
He has also spent the full season as a teammate and driver coach to 17-year-old Marco Giltrap, who is fifth in the championship.
“I have really enjoyed being a part of the 86 field this year,” Evans said.
“It wasn’t something that I was expecting to do, but from my point of view it has been a great year so far.
“Hopping into the second Giltrap Racing car has also allowed me the opportunity to be coaching young Marco. So, while I am focusing on my race, at the same time, I am keeping an eye in the rear vision mirror to see how he is doing.
“And that is the cool thing with the series – it allows young drivers to have some valuable time racing against more experienced guys, which will only improve them a lot more.
“But there are some really good young talents coming through.”
Three races will be held over the weekend at Taupo, with the first scheduled to begin at 3.40 pm.