Kiwi Motorsport star Mitch Evans has labeled New Zealand’s Rugby focused sporting scene “embarrassing” following the success and pedigree of Kiwi drivers overseas.
During an interview with Newstalk ZB’s Tony Veitch Evans explained how not only himself but many other New Zealand motorsport stars are often forgotten about by the main stream media.
“If I’m going to be brutally honest right now, no, I don’t think so. If you want to take the actual size of our country, the population, and the success that we’re getting overseas in motorsport, it is enormous compared to other countries.”
“We’re just so far away and so rugby-minded – it is just embarrassing. It’s a bit embarrassing because I’ve been exposed to other parts of the world and motorsport is literally the biggest sport in the world.”
In 2015 alone Scott Dixon won his fourth IndyCar Championship, Earl Bamber won the LeMans 24, Brendon Hartley become World Endurance Champion and finished second at LeMan, Nick Cassidy won the Japan Formula 3 Championship, Richie Stanaway won two GP2 races (including Monaco) and won his class at the Spa 6 hour and for Evans himself he also won multiple GP2 races and finished 5th in the highly competitive series.
While international success isn’t new for New Zealand drivers, recognition for their achievement is. Drivers such as Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme and Chris Amon are considered legends of the sport internationally but are hardly acknowledged in their own country. Denny Hulme remains our sole Formula One Drivers World Champion and Bruce McLaren’s Kiwi ingenuity lives on as his famous car company, McLaren, still fields Formula One entries today.
“It’s a bit of a sour thing because we get overlooked a huge amount in New Zealand, which I think is a shame because we’ve got a lot of history in New Zealand,” he said.
New Zealand has had eight Formula One drivers, the latest being Mike Thackwell who made his last Grand Prix start in 1984.
“There’s been a huge drought for New Zealanders in Formula 1 but, with myself in Richie in GP2, we’re so bloody close to F1 and making it happen. If we just got a little bit more support, it would be incredible and it would go a long way.”