Reigning Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Champion Jaxon Evans will make a high-profile debut as a factory-selected Porsche Junior in the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour, starting as one of the favourites to win the fiercely-contested Pro-Am category.
The 22-year-old expatriate New Zealander, who defeated the best young international Carrera Cup drivers to win last November’s Porsche Motorsport Junior Programme Shootout at France’s Circuit Paul Ricard, will take his next step up the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid, co-driving the Porsche 911 GT3 R that was poised to win last year’s Bathurst 12 Hour outright until a red flag foreshortened the event in its final moments.
Evans will replace fellow Carrera Cup Australia Champion turned Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell in the #12 Competition Motorsport 911 GT3 R, owned by Australian David Calvert-Jones and managed by Queensland’s McElrea Racing, as Campbell steps up into a factory-backed #912 Earl Bamber Motorsport 911 GT3 R for the opening round of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge in Porsche’s bid for a long-overdue Bathurst outright victory.
Importantly for Evans, his principal teammate is French GT specialist and Porsche Works driver Kévin Estre, who has been a key driver for Porsche in the past two Bathurst 12 Hour races.
Evans’ rise with Porsche saw the New Zealander race in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia series for two seasons (2015-2016), placing runner-up in 2016. Evans then moved to Porsche Carrera Cup Australia for the following two years (2017-2018), winning in his second attempt in one of the series’ most competitive seasons to date.
We caught up with Evans in the Gold Coast ahead of the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour and his eventual move to Europe to contest the 2019 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.
Jaxon Evans Q&A
Q: When did you find out that you had won Porsche’s Junior Programme Shootout?
Jaxon Evans: “I was on my way with my girlfriend to pick up some take-away when I got the call from Germany. When I was told I had been chosen from the 11 finalists, I just went numb.
“The first people I called were my parents, who were on their way to a movie, but we went back to their place to celebrate with my then-cold take-away dinner.”
Q: What did this mean to you?
Jaxon Evans: “I had been working towards that phone call since I started racing Porsches four years ago in GT3 Cup Challenge. It was a life-changing moment.”
Q: When did the reality sink in?
Jaxon Evans: “The reality sunk in when I was mixing with all the Porsche factory drivers I had idolised at the ‘Night of Champions’ dinner in Stuttgart, where I was to collect my award for winning the 2018 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia title. I was amongst all my heroes and I thought, ‘Now I‘m one of them’.”
Q: What happened then?
Jaxon Evans: “I stayed on in Germany for a few days. I had a fitness assessment – I did OK, but even though I was pretty fit, there was room for improvement – and discussed my team options for the 2019 season in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.
“It was a bit of an eye-opener. They knew I was quick, so the focus wasn’t on my driving. Instead they wanted me to become the best athlete I could be out of the car so that I could deliver my best inside the car. They gave me a set plan to work on back in Australia over the Christmas/New Year period.”
Q: When did you find out you’d be driving in the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour?
Jaxon Evans: “I found out that I’d be driving a Porsche at Bathurst at the Awards dinner when Matt Campbell was announced as a driver in the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge that starts at Bathurst.
“Effectively, I took his place in the Ice Break/Virgin Australia 911 GT3 R, which is rather cool as he’s a good mate and I’ve been following his moves ever since I started racing in GT3 Cup Challenge.
“Driving at Bathurst as a Porsche Junior is a huge opportunity for me. I’ll not only be in a top Porsche customer entry but also teaming with vastly experienced drivers in a potential outright race winner.
“Last year the same car was fuelled and on target to win outright before the red flag stopped the race, as its main rivals all still needed to pit. In 2017, it won the Pro-Am class and finished second outright, so it has always been up there.”
Q: What about you – are you ready for this new challenge?
Jaxon Evans: “This is my first race as a Porsche Junior and it’s on a circuit I know well, so I’m determined to do well.”
Q: Are you feeling under pressure to perform now?
Jaxon Evans: “Yes, I’m feeling pressure to justify the faith that has been put in me, but on the positive side, the car will be managed again by the same McElrea Racing team that was behind my Carrera Cup win and have two really experienced teammates – Porsche factory driver Kévin Estre and David Calvert-Jones.
“To share the car with Kévin is a great honour and an opportunity to learn from one of the world’s best GT drivers.”
Q: What happens after the Bathurst 12 Hour?
Jaxon Evans: “After Bathurst I head straight to Tenerife in the Canary Islands to take part in Porsche’s fitness camp for all its factory drivers. Then from late February I hope to be testing for my new Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup team before the first race of the season in May.”
Q: Do you expect to have trouble adjusting to living and racing in Europe?
Jaxon Evans: “Because of the calendar and the amount of testing between races, I plan to spend most of my time based in Stuttgart.
“I’ll be living with Matt Campbell, which will be a huge help as he knows the ropes now after two years there. We’ve been good friends for the past five years and we both share the same ambition to get to the top of the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid.”
Q: Is Matt showing you the way up the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid?
Jaxon Evans: “Being around two years younger, I feel I’ve always been following his wheel tracks and we have often joked about that. But now it’s really cool that we are both with Porsche.”