Things did not go entirely to plan for Jack Hawksworth during Rounds Eleven and Twelve of the 2011 Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship at Snetterton, but the Atech Reid GP driver still managed to walk away from Norfolk with his fourth podium finish of the season.
Having proven himself as one of the single-seater series' front-running drivers during the opening half of the campaign, the Bradford racer headed to Snetterton hoping to continue his good run of form, which included him taking his breakthrough victory last time out at Croft.
Hawksworth, who took a pole position at Snetterton during the 2010 Formula Renault Winter Series, said: “I was probably a bit too refreshed, to be honest! It had been a really long break, and although I had done a bit of karting in the meantime, I was glad when Snetterton came round. I was feeling really optimistic. It was my second race weekend with the team, and we were so much more prepared than had been the case at Croft.
“The guys at Atech are a great bunch of lads, and I really feel part of the team now – we're very close to putting it all together and being a really strong unit. I was just looking forward to getting some momentum going and kick-starting a title challenge over the second half of the year.”
Jack also headed to Norfolk hoping to impress new sponsor TORGOEN, a Swiss watch-maker who have recently appointed Hawksworth as a brand ambassador, making him just one of four members of Team TORGOEN Swiss UK.
Hawksworth, who TORGEON described as 'a driver of huge potential' enthused: “Partnering with brands like TORGOEN Swiss is exactly what I need at this stage of my career. They are extremely ambitious just like me, and together with TORGOEN Swiss, I hope to speed to the top of the motor racing ladder. I've had a great start to my first year in slicks-and-wings, and this deal is a great boost going into the second half of the season.”
Having had prevous experience of Snetterton's new '300' layout during a test session in May, Hawksworth was right in the groove in Friday practice, showing good pace he hoped to replicate in qualifying. However, handling issues for the 20 year old left him fifth on the grid for the opening race.
Reflecting on race one, Jack recounted: “We made some set-up changes before the race, and the car felt better than it had done in qualifying. I made a very good start and moved into fourth before we got to the first corner, and then I had really good grip around the first lap.
“My team-mate Tio Ellinas was directly ahead, and he made a mistake coming out of Hamilton Corner and dropped a wheel off the track. I managed to get halfway alongside into the next right-hander, but I backed out of the move midway through the corner because I didn't want to risk an accident – the worst person you can have contact with is your team-mate.
“After that, I made a couple of little mistakes myself and dropped back a bit, but then I set several fastest laps in the middle part of the race; I closed right up onto the back of Tio again, but I just couldn't find a way past. On the penultimate lap, though, the two leaders had a coming-together, which allowed us to get an unexpected one-two finish.
“That was a brilliant reward for the team after all their hard work. Even though we had a bit of luck, I think it was still fully deserved for all the effort we had put in leading up to the weekend. I was more than happy to pick up a trophy, and it was brilliant to kick off my relationship with TORGOEN Swiss with a podium.
“Looking back at the first lap now with Tio, it's always easier with the benefit of hindsight to say, 'perhaps I should have kept my foot in'. I could have had my second race win of the season, but equally, what if he had turned in? It was a split-second decision, and if I had made the move, it could have gone either way – I could have ended up looking like a hero…or an idiot.”
Jacks prospects for race two were limited after a throttle failure at the beginning of the second qualifying session meant he would start the race dead last on the grid. His luck would not improve in the race, as Hawksworth explains: “Starting from the back in Formula Renault UK is never easy. You have to push and take a few risks to make up positions. I gained three places on the first lap, but then I had a little bit of a 'moment' in the middle of Williams Corner, which caused me to run ever-so-slightly wide on the exit. There was a tyre barrier right at the edge of the track, but I didn't actually think I was going to hit it; I must have literally just brushed it, and that was enough to drag it into the front of my car and rip the wheel off.”
The barrier, positioned unusually close to the circuit, left no margin for error, with Hawksworth not its only victim over the weekend. With the past three meetings yielding a podium and a retirement in each, the Cullingworth-based racer acknowledges next time out at Silverstone he must claim two strong finishes as he looks to move up from his current position of fourth in the championship points.
The Yorkshireman concluded: “It was a disappointing way to leave Snetterton. I felt I had prepared for the weekend really well and I had been aiming for two wins, but I can't be too despondent. There were a few things that affected us that we didn't have time to fix, but our pace in the first race was good, and at Silverstone I think we will be quite a bit stronger. I've had some time back in the car now, so hopefully, I can start mixing it for pole positions and wins again.
“We've just got to move on. The target is to start afresh, and I want to win the second half of the championship – I want to score more points than anyone else between now and the end of the season…and if we can start winning some races, then it's not over yet by a long shot.”