Jack Hawksworth enjoyed a dream debut with his new team in Rounds Nine and Ten of the 2011 Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship on his home track Croft. Racing with Atech Reid GP for the first time, the Yorkshireman stormed through to take his maiden car racing victory.
Despite a successful start to his maiden full campaign of car racing with Mark Burdett Motorsport, which saw him take two podiums in eight races, Jack moved to Atech just before the Croft meeting. His main motivation for the most was so he could have a fast, front-running team-mate to gauge himself against.
Bradford-based Hawksworth commented: “From having observed them during the season, I liked the way they worked and their approach to everything. They had been consistently up there and on the pace right from the opening round, and the main thing really was having the opportunity to measure myself against Tio Ellinas.
“My team-mate at Mark Burdett was a quick guy, but he didn't have the experience in Formula Renault, whereas Tio is quick and he's been the championship leader's closest competitor this year. When there are two drivers always at the front, you can push each other along and learn and improve from each other; one of you might be doing something better in one corner, the other in another.
“There were a few nerves on Friday at Croft. I knew a lot of people were questioning my move and that if I didn't pull it off, that was me effectively done-and-dusted, but in general, I settled into the team pretty quickly, I think. They're a really good bunch of lads at Atech Reid GP.
“During practice, it was just a case of getting to know everyone's names and how they all worked. There were inevitably some small teething issues with a car that hadn't been run for quite a while – but once we had ironed them out, we managed to improve its performance.”
Despite the circuit not being one of his favourites, Hawksworth dominated the wet opening qualifying session to clinch his first pole position of 2011, after just missing out last time out at Oulton Park. The Cullingworth-based racer then went on to continue his dominance in race one.
Hawksworth explains: “It was dry for race one, but I wasn't worried as I knew I had track position and a decent car underneath me, so it was all about making sure I kept my head and got the job done. I got an absolutely storming start off the line, and Tio leapfrogged Alex Lynn to move into second.
“I was under a little bit of pressure through the opening corners, but I managed to keep it all under control. The car felt awesome, and over the first few laps, I was able to build up a small gap back to Tio and I felt like I was dictating the pace.
“It did get a little more difficult over the second half of the race, as I picked up a bit of understeer when the tyres went away. That enabled Tio to close in again towards the end, but it's so hard to overtake in these cars, and I just had to concentrate on not making any mistakes and making sure I got good exits from the corners.
“I was nervous for the last few laps, when I came across the line, it was a sense of relief more than anything. I was a bit overcome with it all up on the podium – it felt brilliant! I couldn't have asked for a better debut with Atech Reid GP than getting pole by almost a third of a second and then winning my first race with the team, with Tio making it a one-two. The guys did a great job and they deserved the result. It was an absolute dream start.”
Hawksworth's breakthrough victory, in only his fifteenth car race, makes the 20 year old only the third different driver to triumph in the single seater series this season. Qualifying for race two didn't go quite as well for Jack, with traffic issues and slight understeer meaning he could only get sixth on the grid.
Hawksworth, who still had his sights on a podium finish, reflects: “I got a good start to move up to fourth by the first corner, but then I caught a damp patch coming out of the chicane and ran wide onto the grass, which dropped me back to sixth.
“I got up to third, and then the rain began to fall and the conditions worsened. I was so much quicker than the driver in second and I was pushing like hell to try and catch him, but I made a fatal error at the chicane, hit the kerb and the suspension collapsed. It was a bad mistake and I won't be making it again.
“Looking back now, I should have settled for third, but hindsight is a great thing – and it's difficult to tell yourself to calm down when you're out there on-track and rapidly closing in on the driver ahead! I was disappointed with myself for making that mistake, but otherwise, it was a really good weekend.”
Hawksowrth was disappointed to be one of many drivers to get caught out by the elements in a crazy race, but a second fastest lap time proves his potential, putting him in positive mood heading into the summer break.
Hawksworth, who sits fourth in the championship standings, concludes: “I had been treating Croft just as a gelling weekend with the team, to be honest, so that we could go into the seven-week summer break and return at Snetterton in-shape to really hit the ground running and start winning some races – but it ended up being a massive success. It was a bit of a surprise to win so soon, obviously, but credit to everyone involved, and also to Mark Burdett Motorsport – I couldn't have done it without all the knowledge I gained with them in the Winter Series and over the first four rounds of the season.