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Erik Evans’ grand tour

Twenty-year old Erik Evans, the Atlanta-born, UK-based surprise winner of the 2023 British GT4 Championship, recently signed back on for another year in the British GT4 Series, and also announced that he would be in an Academy Motorsports new-generation S650 Mustang GT4 in this year’s GT4 European Series Powered by RAFA Racing Club.

The first American driver to nail down such an accolade, Evans, hopes, with Ford Performance’s support, to become the first driver ever to defend the British GT crown.

“It has been awesome with Ford,” said Evans. “We did it last year with Ford when we won the championship, and we are ready to race the new generation Ford S650 Mustang. We’re excited to see what it is able to do.”

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Last week, Evans put the No. 61 Multimatic Motorsports-built Ford Mustang GT4 through its paces at Donington Park, getting both himself and the Ford in fighting trim.

“I’m racing in the British GT4 Championship and the European GT4 Championship this year,” said Evans. “There is a lot going on. I’m trying to repeat my championship from last year in the British championship, and then I want to try and leave a mark on Europe and show that Americans can come over here and beat them. Last season was my rookie year in GT racing. It was pretty crazy because I didn’t know any of the tracks and had never done any racing in GT cars before. I think it was a little unexpected, but completely welcomed.”

Evans set out on his motor racing journey in 2017 when he attended AMP Karting School. By 2021 he was lining up in the Road to Indy categories, but long the way was introduced to VRD Racing’s Dan Mitchell, who found him a ride in the final British GT4 race of 2022. It was at Donington Park where he caught the gaze of the Academy Motorsports outfit.

“Basically, I did F4 and then the following year I did USF2000,” he said. “Reality set in a little bit and you start looking at the bigger picture of schemes and open wheel racing is very, very, very, very, very expensive and very, very talented and very hard to get a spot because there are so few spots available. Basically, what happened was that I was racing for this team called Velocity Racing Development out of Atlanta and the team owner actually grew up five minutes away from Donington Park here in England and basically I started looking at the big picture. I said, ‘Hey, as much as I’d like to go do Formula 1 or IndyCar, that’s an unrealistic situation for me.’ I turned to Dan Mitchell and said, ‘Hey man, big picture, if I really, really want to make a carer driving race cars, what would I do?’ He said, ‘Go GT racing.’

“So from there, we looked at the IMSA championships and we really looked into that. I started to see a status quo with things going on in IndyCar and in IMSA. I could see that all the guys that were winning everything are Europeans. There are a couple of Americans that can hang up in there, but most of the time it’s these European kids that are trying to make it to F1 or to F2 or stuff like that. They were coming over here and kicking ass in America, so I said, ‘I want to be the best. Why not go where the best come from and learn their way of doing it?’ That’s what I’m doing over here.’”

Shortly after impressing Academy Motorsports team owner Matt Nicoll-Jones at Donington, Evans began considering a full GT4 season in 2023.

“Dan Mitchell and myself were looking at the bigger picture of making a career out of it all, because I would give everything to drive race cars for the rest of my life,” he said. “So, Dan said to me, ‘If you want the best opportunity to get paid to drive cars, go GT. There are so many opportunities for everyone. There are multiple drivers per car, long races and it all just opens up the opportunities. There are so many different championships. There’s no there’s no learning curve. The GT3 and the GT4 cars are the same anywhere you go in the world no matter championships are doing.’

“Going into the 2023 season, I knew that Ford was working on a new GT program. The Ford GT car had been long gone for a couple of years and no-one knew if Ford was going to come back. However, I’d been told that they’re developing a GT3 and a GT4 car and so I was like, ‘Okay, well, I think that’d be really cool with an American brand with an American driver who wants to go and conquer Europe and Le Mans and all this other stuff.’

It all came down to the final race of the year and it took something of a racing miracle, but Evans and teammate Matt Crowley showed up at the 2023 British GT4 Championship finale at Donington Park and managed to claim the series title.