Auckland schoolboy Mitch Evans fought all the way to the final lap of the season to win the 2010 Toyota Racing Series title at Taupo on Sunday
Twice during the 10 lap race the 15-year-old was forced out of the third place he needed to become the youngest ever winner of New Zealand’s premier single seater tile.
His rival, 19-year-old Earl Bamber from Wanganui, was leading the race and used clever tactics to put pressure on young Evans.
Not only did Bamber need to win his third race of the weekend to steal the title, he needed Evans lower than third.
The final result was in doubt until the very end. Bamber was protected by his team mate Stefan Webling (Taranaki) running in second place but could see that Evans was under threat.
So Bamber backed off, closing up the leading bunch of five cars and putting pressure on Evans. It worked twice as Sam MacNeill from Palmerston North took the opportunity to hustle ahead of Evans.
However, the youngster wasn’t flustered and each time he fought back into the third place he desperately needed.
It wasn’t until the dying moments that Evans’ own team mate Daniel Jilesson muscled his way into fourth place where was able to act as the ‘rear gunner’.
This meant that, in spite of winning six races, Bamber was beaten to the title by just 3pts after 15 races. He had gone into the weekend 34 pts behind Evans.
For Evans – winner of three races during the season – it was a tough test of his nerves. “I was just relieved to see the chequered flag," declared the new TRS Champion.
For Bamber who made a storming finish to the season after a sluggish start, it meant he had won all four of the last races including the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild.
He took the lead on the third lap of the’ reverse top six’ grid final race that had the two protagonists starting side by side on the third row.
Bamber and Evans had finished 1-2 in the two Taupo races leading up to the gripping final confrontation.
Bamber claimed fastest lap in the finale but was ultimately thwarted in his late charge towards the coveted title, the $10,000 prizemoney and a European test drive.
The final points for the season saw Evans on 915pts, Bamber on 912pts, Andrew Waite third overall on 762pts. In spite of only competing in the four International rounds the Estonian driver Sten Pentrus retained fourth overall on 660pts. Fifth was Jilesen on 643pts and sixth was Wootten on 623pts.
Giles Motorsport claimed the Team Championship with 1558pts from Triple X Motorsport with 1518pts and ETEC Motorsport with 1499pts.