GP2: Evans and Markelov retained by Russian Time

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RT Russian Time has become the latest team to confirm its line-up for the forthcoming GP2 Series season, announcing that it will retain Mitch Evans and Artem Markelov for 2015.

Evans led the team’s charge in 2014, picking up 174 of its 180 points en route to fourth place in the drivers’ championship with two wins and four podium finishes.

Now entering his third season in GP2, the New Zealander is hoping to mount a serious challenge for the title with Russian Time.

“I’m greatly looking forward to another GP2 season with Russian Time in what looks like being another very competitive year,” Evans said in a statement. “We proved we had race-winning capability in 2014 and the goal has to be to build on that, put together a consistent programme and hopefully challenge for the championship.”

Markelov only scored six points in his debut season, but is hoping for a better campaign after finding his feet in 2014 following the step up from German F3.

“I’m happy to be able to announce a second season of GP2 with Russian Time in an unchanged driver line-up,” Markelov said. “It was a good environment in which to learn and Mitch is obviously a strong yardstick for me.

“Looking back at 2014, the series was a sizeable jump from F3 and my qualifying pace and getting the best out of the tires in that situation is the area I will be concentrating on.”

Evans will be hoping to repeat his title-winning escapades from GP3 in 2012, but he will need to overcome championship favorite and McLaren junior Stoffel Vandoorne this year. Other likely protagonists include Ferrari protege Raffaele Marciello, Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly and Williams development driver Alex Lynn, creating a very open fight at the front of the field.

The first GP2 pre-season test kicks off in Bahrain on March 9.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”