Jack Hawksworth enjoyed the strongest performance of his Formula Renault UK 2.0 Championship career to date at Oulton Park, taking a second place in Round Seven for his best result of the season and his second podium of the year.
The 20 year old headed to Cheshire looking to make up for his 'terrible' showing last time out at Thruxton and looked forward to tackling the Cheshire circuit: “Oulton Park is a great track, one of the few in the country that still has real character; it's not flat, it's not an airfield – it's a real racing circuit. It has adverse and positive camber, uphill and downhill sections – and it's more of a challenge because of that. It's a real drivers' circuit.”
The Mark Burdett Motorsport driver started the weekend with a superb opening qualifying session, as he reflects: “I was on pole position with just a minute-and-a-half to go and I was another one-and-a-half tenths up again in the first sector of my next lap, but then the red flags came out. At that point I thought I had got pole, and I hadn't had that much adrenaline going through me for some time, which was such a good feeling.
“The session got underway again, though, and I pushed a bit too hard in the first corner and messed up my last lap, so after that it was a case of waiting to see if anyone else could beat me, and Alex Lynn just pipped me at the end. It was still nice to be on the front row and reaffirmed what I had thought going into the weekend, that I was driving a lot better than in the first three meetings.”
After a strong opening session, the second session turned out to be a flop, when throttle issues meant he didn't take to the track at all, a disaster as he explains: “You can't overtake easily in Formula Renault UK around Oulton Park, so it's very difficult to come through the field. We could certainly have pushed Lynn all the way for pole again, and could maybe even have got it ourselves – we were the only ones capable of matching him all weekend, really. As it was, race two was a write-off from that moment on.”
He underlined his pace by hassling Lynn throughout the opening race, lapping a mere 0.07s slower than the championship leader, but was unable to find a way past, finishing 1.7s back at the flag. The car racing rookie said: “I got good drive up to the first corner and got right behind Lynn. He braked quite early, and I nearly ran into the back of him – in hindsight, I maybe should have thrown it up the inside. I was all over him around the opening lap, but there was nowhere I could go.
“I pushed as hard as I could for the first four or five laps to try and force Lynn into a mistake, but I never got close enough to be able to attempt a lunge – and sitting in his dirty air damaged my tyres, which meant he was able to pull out a little bit of a gap.”
Jack was content with the second place and hoped to continue it in race two, but the race didn't yield the same kind of reward. He confessed: “I was praying for rain to be able to come through the field and maybe even get another podium but unfortunately, it was bone dry. I made some really nice moves to gain a few positions in the first two or three laps and move up to tenth, and then there was about a 2.5-second gap to the two drivers battling over eighth place. As soon as I had a bit of clear air, I stormed up behind them – I set what was the fastest lap of the race at that point, and it took me just two laps to close them down.
“The problem was that once I got right up behind them, I was in their dirty air. I was all over the back of them and so much quicker, but every lap they just kept defending everywhere. I was desperately trying to find an opening, but there was no way through.
“Eventually, coming out of the hairpin, I got a brilliant run going down towards Knickerbrook Chicane; the driver ahead stuck to the inside line, so I just thought, 'I'm going right the way around the outside here'. I nearly made the move stick, but I just couldn't quite slow the car down enough to make the corner and I ended up spinning round.”
Jack's failure sees him slip to fifth place in the championship standings as he heads to Croft next for his home round, a round his is looking forward to, concluding: “From my own performance point-of-view, I was ecstatic. I couldn't have been any happier – the improvement from the first three rounds was huge. I felt revved up for it, and I really felt like I was enjoying racing again. We definitely didn't get what we deserved from the weekend points-wise, but the other half of me is over-the-moon. I was really sharp and felt like we had the pace to win all weekend, and it was the first time I've had that feeling all year – this was the first meeting of the season where I feel I performed to my potential. Now I just want to carry that momentum forwar