20 Questions To……Gareth Evans
LMES LMP2 Champion Gareth Evans provides some very amusing answers
here. All of the images are from the fifth LMES race in 2005, at
Istanbul, a very significant event in one man's racing career. This
weekend at Jarama is effectively the first anniversary of that Le
Mans (Endurance) Series title, so the timing of this item is rather
1. Where were you born (and when)?
Tiverton, Devon. Very early sixties (1959).
2. Where do you now live?
3. Your favourite Music?
TVR AJP. Goo Goo Dolls, Thin Lizzy (yes, I was born in 1959), JS
Bach (like him, I was a choirboy and big promoter of the role of
the organ), the high pitched whine of my PA as I disappear out of
the door having told her I’m going testing again.
4. Favourite Food?
Fish. Starbucks cheese and marmite pannini. Now I’m training
it has to be salad I’m told.
5. Your current road car?
M5. Four doors and a great engine.
6. Which was the first race you ever attended?
Wiscombe Park Hillclimb when I was 7 yrs old. I remember it because
my dad locked his keys in the boot of our Triumph Herald. The one
with the fold back vinyl ‘sunroof’ so that my sister
and I could stand on the back seat with our heads sticking out,
pretending to be submarine commanders in our plastic sunglasses
and eating flies (my second favourite food). As far as a proper
race, it would be the British GP at Brands Hatch. I was a sales
rep. in Kent and in those days you could just drive in and watch
practice from the bank at Clearways inside the gate. I used to wander
for hours around the circuit as this was so much better than working
(some things don’t change in life). I still have a picture
of Gilles Villeneuve which I took while standing on top of the Armco
at Surtees and looking down into the cockpit about six feet away
from me. It’s all a bit different now………
7. Which was the first race you competed in?
750MC at Donington Park in Caterham 1400 K series. No one told me
about the start procedure however. Having qualified somewhere in
midfied, everyone seemed a bit keen to go - on what I thought was
the warm up lap. Until the ambulance started passing me into Redgate.
Then I caught on - there was no warm up lap! I’ve no idea
where I finished, but was relieved just to do so. In any case, the
ambulance definitely had more power-to-weight than me and must have
jumped the start.
8. Who was your very first sponsor?
My girlfriend of course. Now she’s my wife. It was essential
to secure the funding… ….. Not sure about the overall
balance of spend by now. I think I might still be ahead though (she
won’t be reading this) as I am highly skilled at making extremely
vague when it comes to any motor racing budget discussions with
her. Not like jewellery - which she can accurately cost to within
1% at 100 paces. Fortunately we have new sponsors now and really
great support considering we are an amateur effort.
9. Where was your first race win (and in what car)?
Sidmouth, Devon. 400 yd downhill skateboard unofficial world championship
on cliff path (using old ladies for chicanes). Followed by graduation
to soap box half-mile down the 9th fairway at the golf course, just
managing to miss the flag stick, cross the green, and finish in
the bunker before being landed on by fat Oli who had a massive weight
advantage downhill - so it was a big win for me. In a race with
marshals in orange suits it was 750MC in a 1400 Caterham (not bad
for a heavyweight) at Cadwell. Same hills, less pain.
10. Who is your all-time racing hero?
The anti-establishment James Hunt, who never took himself too seriously,
tried so hard, and often not with the best car. Great four wheel
drifting around Woodcote and an era when it was all so much more
spectacular, dangerous, and human.
11. What is your favourite track?
Le Mans. Especially at night, when the atmosphere is unique with
headlights everywhere (especially in my rear view when drove the
TVR there!). The noise seems to disappear and it all becomes a bit
surreal as you blast down the straights between trees, watching
for the red lights in front to change in braking. It is quite magical.
I can’t wait to go back again. The Porsche curves in a prototype
are a fantastic, if a bit unhinging, experience.
12. Who is your favourite team mate?
I’ve enjoyed racing with just about every team mate I have
had. Currently Bob Berridge and Peter Owen, who are both great company
and we have a lot of laughs, while still trying our hardest whenever
we are on the track. We are a good mix together - I make Bob look
fast, he makes me look sociable. Peter is just brilliant at whatever
he puts his mind to. I think this helps put together what is needed
to make an endurance racing team work well and win. To do it our
way means devoting significant time together away from the track
as well as at it, so we have to get on and it has to be fun as well
as very competitive. We want to win and we want to do it smiling.
13. What was your best ever race?
Winning the LMP2 championship at the Istanbul race last year is
the obvious one as it was so recent and a great experience for me.
Not just because we won the teams and drivers titles, but because
I felt I performed well in difficult and tense circumstances. It
was probably the best I drove all year and at the right time. Guy
Smith was a fantastic coach and it was great to get out of the car
knowing I had done a good job and delivered what the team asked
me to do, and what I had to do for us to win. All sorts, even the
leading Pescarolo, were spinning off, and for over an hour and a
half it was one crisis after another in really crap conditions.
I stayed (just about) on the track throughout and actually extended
our lead - leaving Peter with a straightforward drive into the gravel
trap at turn 1…..
the back of the grid following a total brake failure in qualifying,
in a TVR Tuscan race at Spa, is another clear memory. I ended up
8th I think from a field of 30-odd in a 25 minute race. It certainly
stands out in my mind as it’s such a fantastic circuit. Not
only did I go well and pass a load of others, but it’s memorable
for a classic Peter Wheeler (the former TVR company owner) moment.
I had lined him up going down into Eau Rouge and passed him at the
top of the hill. As I exited onto the straight, he was then way
behind and falling back. I was then minding my own business, absolutely
flat out, along the Kemmel straight when, from nowhere, he blasted
back past me with about 300m still to go to the corner. With the
same engine I’m sure. Then again, it was his race series!
14. What is the favourite car you have competed in?
Lola B05/40. A designed-for-racing car is so much more rewarding
to drive compared to GT in my opinion. I still need to get to complete
grips with the braking potential and that’s my target for
2006, as my mid-corner speeds are fine. That’s going to be
down to more experience and a certain (disconnected) mental approach,
which can only come with more miles under the belt. It’s so
much more physical than I had thought, even with paddle shift. The
forces are just so much greater than a GT car. It also has the useful
by-product of getting me fit and I’m back in the gym three
or four times a week with my sadistic trainer(ess) again now. I’m
typing this on a Monday and I still ache from Saturday morning’s
press-up-fest. Still, the view does make up for it………..
keep it up all season Gareth? Ed.)
15. Do you have any racing superstitions?
Not to go anywhere near Bob’s race bag as it contains his
To always race with Peter at circuits with no gravel traps
16. What is the race you would most like to win?
To beat Hugh Chamberlain at least once in the race to the bar from
the circuit. He’s such a driving talent when properly motivated
by the thought of lager……
Le Mans is, in principle, the race that I guess so many sportscar
racers would say they would ideally want to win. However, I am very
realistic and this wasn’t our target (as a bunch of old blokes)
and, unlike last year, we weren’t targeting ao win in the
Le Mans Series this season. Moving into LMP1 means consolidation
on what we learnt last year and seeing how close we can get ourselves
to the professional pace. We now have good experience to take forward
and have established some key principles which we know work. It’s
all about improving and achieving the absolute best we can, with
the equipment and ability we have. We are putting our heads above
the parapet, and no-one will try harder.
17. What is the best racing advice you have ever received
(and from whom)?
brake for another 10 metres":……. Guy Smith (right)
"Brake f*****g hard when you get there!"........ Guy Smith
"Drive as fast as you can in a clockwise direction":..
“You’ll see this sight picture as you come over the
crest at 165mph, the track falls away from you, then opens out,
aim for the ‘I’ in Michelin on the hoarding, the first
one, if you have turned in too late take the ‘h’, or
you can use the second ‘I’ if that feels better, hold
it in to the middle of the circuit, down to fifth, then let the
car run for 5 or 6 metres, spin up the turbo, dab the brakes with
your left foot so there’s no knock-off when you go for it,
then go full throttle, keep the sight picture in mind, absorb the
view as you turn in, memorise what feels good, it’s all about
the sight picture, it’s all about the sight picture, you know,
the sight picture. Don’t forget to brake and mind the barriers
though": …….. The, at times, incomprehensible Bob
Berridge on what to do in the first nano-second as you go into Indianapolis.
Don’t ask me, I’ve got absolutely no idea what he’s
talking about half the time.
Gareth and Peter Owen, following Guy Smith's style, at Istanbul
Take no notice
of certain journalists, go out and drive as hard as you can and
compete:……Advice from anyone who knows what it’s
like to have to actually do it. It’s interesting how most
sports celebrate amateur involvement and achievement but other agenda
require this to be apparently unacceptable in motorsport. People
have no idea how much hard work and effort goes into our racing
and there’s just an assumption we are paying and turning up
at the circuit. A long way from the truth in what we have done at
18. What is your proudest racing moment?
Crossing the finish line at Le Mans in 2004 in the TVR, with Bob
Berridge in the sister car alongside (though he did give it a little
squirt as he couldn’t bear the idea of not crossing first,
in spite of being several laps up). It was also the only time I
have clearly heard crowd noise above a TVR engine, in an enclosed
cockpit. I think what has gone on since shows what a fantastic achievement
it was to get two of those cars across the line after 24 hourss.
The only time I am likely to see big Bob Berridge blub - though
I did too. Then I missed the immediate celebrations as I had to
give a mandatory urine sample for drug testing. I think it was to
do with the ACO trying to understand why on earth I would want to
race with Bob. After all the dehydration, it took me three litres
of water to then mange what I think was 40cc. Frank Biela was still
there drinking and ‘trying’ when I left after about
19. What is your most embarrassing racing moment?
Crashing a TVR T400R into the Armco on the exit of Clearways on
my second lap, in practice at a Britcar race. My co-driver Flux
did tell me slicks were fine. They were, but only on the dry line,
which I couldn’t get on for M3s everywhere. That’s my
excuse in any case. More likely just incompetence. Certainly a learning
20. Which magazines / websites do you use to keep up to date with
I look at DSC as it covers specifically what interests me. The reports
from the big meetings is a fantastic service and no mean feat with
some of the (poor) facilities you have to work with when out and