Rising star Jack Hawksworth enjoyed a tremendous start to his car racing career with a superb debut in the 2010 Formula Renault UK Winter Series. Taking on drivers with years more experience than him, the 19 year old recorded an outstanding pole position, before securing two solid race finishes to cap off a great weekend.
After a successful national and international karting career, the youngster came into the series looking to build experience ahead of the main championship in 2011. Driving for Mark Burdett Motorsport, Jack exceeded all his expectations with his performance at the season opener at Snetterton.
On a drying circuit, he cooled his tyres at the right time, allowing him to produce a great lap and take an unexpected pole position for the weekend's first race. To prove it wasn't a fluke, he went on to take second on the grid for the second race.
“It was unbelievable,” he enthused. “I had never expected to take pole position in my first car meeting! I was just there to learn, to be honest. We were all a little bit surprised, I think, and everyone in the team was really chuffed – it was the best start we could possibly have wished for going into our first race together.”
Taking to the track with 24 rivals for the first time was going to be a big step up for the debutant. He entered into the races feeling hesitant, but once they began, looked assured and was right on the pace from the off.
“I was nervous sat on the grid before the first race, because everything was absolutely brand new to me,” he accepted. “The start was difficult – we'd only had time to do two practice starts beforehand, and we had a little bit of a clutch problem too in that race – but I still came out of the first corner in second place. I then drove very cautiously to begin with, but after a while I began to settle into a rhythm behind the leader.
“I was comfortable staying with him and had a bit of a gap back to third, and then the safety car came out. I didn't get the best re-start and lost the leader a bit, and then on the next lap, as I came out of the first corner Ollie Millroy was quite close behind me. I had a quick look in my mirror, but that momentary lapse in concentration caused me to out-brake myself into the following corner, which allowed Millroy and the guy in fourth to out-drag me along the straight.
“I should have defended a lot harder, but I just wanted to keep out-of-trouble – I didn't have the same mindset that I normally do. I achieved my objective of finishing the race and gaining experience, though, and our pace was really encouraging. There was nothing in it between me and the top three, and I felt really comfortable in what I was doing. I wasn't pushing over-the-limit – I felt well within myself.
“I was then lying fourth again in race two when I got into Josh Hill's slipstream. I was tucked right up behind him lining myself up to overtake, when he seemed to have some kind of mechanical problem because his car suddenly slowed. I had nowhere to go, and although I immediately jinked out, I just clipped my front wing on his rear wing.
“That dislodged my wing, leaving it hanging off and scraping the ground for the rest of the race, which meant I had no downforce – and without aero in these cars, you just can't go round the corners. The wing was damaged more on the left-hand side, which affected me round right-hand corners – and Snetterton is predominantly made up of right-hand corners! That was my race over effectively, because it was so difficult after that with no grip at the front of the car at all. I was losing three seconds a lap – it was just impossible.”
He ended the second race in 13th, an unlucky result after a promising start. Despite this though, Jack certainly turned a few heads over the weekend, ending the weekend sixth in the championship table, the top placed rookie. He is looking forward to the next meeting at Pembrey, where he hopes to continue his impressive form.
“We definitely made an impact, and I think we'll be a lot stronger again at Pembrey. I've got more experience of the racing side of things now, and I know the kind of mindset I need to adopt – I'll be a lot more aggressive there and able to attack far more.
“At Snetterton, the result wasn't as important as making it to the chequered flag, but Pembrey will be a different story. I'll still be learning, of course – but I'll also be going for a result. Having exceeded my expectations this weekend, I'm confident now that I'll be bang on the pace in Wales. Next time, I'll really be racing!”