|Having ably established himself as one of the very best karting drivers not only in Britain but even, indeed, in the world, Jack Hawksworth is now preparing to take the next step as he shifts his impressive career up through the gears – with a move into car racing.|
Jack has achieved tremendous success in karting both on home shores and also internationally, having claimed title glory in the prestigious Trofeo Margutti, British Kartmasters Grand Prix and Junior Max European Championship and finished as runner-up in the Junior Rotax World Championship, but after taking the fight to – and very often beating – top drawer rivals from every corner of the globe, the highly-rated young Bradford star is confident that he is ready to move on up.
“My last two years in karting, I feel, have been the most beneficial for me,” the 19-year-old mused, “and I think what I’ve learned during that time will hold me in really good stead. I’ve raced against the likes of Bas Lammers, Jonathan Thonon, Jérémy Iglesias – all great drivers, and I’ve learned so much from their experience.
“Some of the karters stepping up into Formula Renault have never competed in the premier classes of karting, so they don’t really have that same level of experience. Even though it has been tough, I just feel I’ve learned so much this past year from people like that – and that will all translate into cars, too. At the end of the day, it’s not just about driving – attitude plays a big part as well.”
Jack has chosen to throw himself right in at the deep end in the Formula Renault UK Winter Series, meaning he will be pitching himself straight up against high-calibre adversaries in what is widely-considered to be the most competitive and fiercely-fought junior single-seater category in the country.
Having signed up to race with well-respected outfit Mark Burdett Motorsport, the Cullingworth-based speed demon has had test outings already at Snetterton and Pembrey – scene of the two Winter Series rounds in early November – and whilst he concedes that he has an advantage in some respects from the four years he has spent in KZ gearbox karting, the distinct aerodynamic characteristics of the Formula Renault have been a slightly different story...
“I’m used to learning new circuits from karting, so that has been pretty straightforward to be honest,” he explained. “The difficult thing has been learning about the car. I’m so used to having only 100kg underneath me, and driving the Formula Renault for the first time, what shocked me the most I think was the weight and having to be able to control it – when you brake, all the weight goes to the front, which completely changes the handling of the car, and when you get on the gas it all shifts back again.
“One thing that pleasantly surprised me, though, is that in slow corners, the Formula Renault is actually very similar to a KZ kart. In the fast stuff it’s a bit different, with all of the weight moving around and also because of the aerodynamics, but in a couple of hairpins at Snetterton and some of the corners at Pembrey, it just felt like a big KZ.
“The aero gives you a strange feeling at first, because it’s nothing like karting. It’s hard to get your head around the fact that the more speed you carry into a corner, the more grip you will have – it’s a bit of an illusion, because you can carry more speed into the corner than you expect. Initially I was braking sharper than I needed to and scrubbing too much speed off on the entry, which means you then don’t have so much grip in the middle of the corner when you need it.
“It’s all a big learning curve and there are still a few things that I’ll take a while to adapt to before I feel 100 per cent comfortable, but the good thing is I’ve got the right people around me at Mark Burdett Motorsport, which hopefully will enable me to learn everything quickly.
“Mark seems like a really good guy, and the engineer, Andy Miller, really seems to know what he’s doing, too. There are a lot of people in car racing and in karting who promise you the world and then nothing comes of it, but with this team, everything they’ve been saying to me makes sense – I never have to question anything. They’ve just been brilliant to work with, and they really want to win! I think I’m with the best team I could be.”
As to his objectives, finally, Jack is keeping his cards close to his chest, optimistic that he can do well but unwilling to be drawn on specific targets, save for the fact that he wants to prepare himself in the best way possible for an all-out assault on the honours in the main championship next spring.
“I don’t want to set myself any goals per se, because it’s all such an unknown for me,” he wraps up, “but hopefully I can pick it up quite quickly. In honesty, I really don’t know how I’m going to do – I’m just treating the Winter Series as an opportunity to learn as much as I can to be ready for 2011. I’m really excited! To have a chance like this is absolutely amazing, something everyone dreams of, and I just can’t wait. I think it will be great – I’m really, really looking forward to it!”