Hawksworth revs up for European showdown with podium return Jack Hawksworth successfully put a torrid run behind him with a brilliant double podium finish in the second round of the hotly-fought German DKM Championship at Oschersleben - and...
Hawksworth revs up for European showdown with podium return
Jack Hawksworth successfully put a torrid run behind him with a brilliant double podium finish in the second round of the hotly-fought German DKM Championship at Oschersleben - and having returned to form, the highly- rated young Bradford karting star is now getting set for arguably the biggest date on his 2010 calendar.
After what he described as 'a bit of a disaster' at Oschersleben in 2009 - when he was excluded from one of his heats for contact, depriving him of pole position for the pre-final and then finding himself shunted off at the first corner - the Cullingworth-based hotshot set a searing pace in practice twelve months on, only for qualifying to throw an early spanner into the works.
"The engine failed on my second lap, which was disappointing because it meant I didn't get to set a time," he explained. "We started 27th and last for both heats, and I thought it was going to be a bit tricky from there, because Oschersleben is a really fast and flowing circuit with not many braking zones, which makes it quite hard to overtake."
That notwithstanding, a brace of gutsy performances in his two heat races from the very back of the field earned Jack seventh and 13th places - and with it evinced his raw pace, as he laid claim to 13th on the starting grid for the pre-final, when Lady Luck belatedly deigned to smile upon him. Or perhaps, as they say, it was more a case of fortune favouring the brave.
"The kart was working really well," recounted the PDB ace. "We managed to find a good set-up, and the track really suited our engine, meaning we had the power where we needed it. It rained in the pre-final, which opened it all up and made it easier to overtake and come through the pack. I got up to seventh at the start, and after that I was quite quick and had some good battles as I picked my way through to finish third.
"The grand final was then dry, but we had been quick in those conditions during practice, so I was feeling confident and it was quite an exciting race. I started third and got up to second off the line. Over the first few laps we didn't quite have enough grip and the leader was able to pull out almost a second over me, but midway through my kart came on and I began to come back at him by about a tenth of a second a lap.
"I got to within three tenths, but then exiting the first corner I put a wheel onto the grass and it dragged me off onto the dirt. I had been pushing just a little bit too hard because I thought I had a good chance of winning, but that mistake cost me two seconds and I slipped back to third. I got P2 back in the end, though, which was really, really good after what had happened in qualifying - I honestly didn't think I had a chance of finishing on the podium after that!
"My last podium had been in the first round of the CIK-FIA European Championship at Sarno back in April, and after that we had a few races where we weren't in the top six or seven. To get right back up there and in the mix was a big boost of confidence and motivation for everybody in the team before the second and final round of the Europeans at Varennes."
That outing will take place on the last weekend in June, and Jack has strong previous form around the high-speed, sweeping French circuit, having charged to a superb rostrum finish from 28th on the grid there two years ago. Heading into the meeting sitting a strong and challenging third in the standings, the 19-year-old might have some work to do to catch the leading duo, but he is bullish about his prospects and palpably up for the fight.
"I've not really had time to think about the Europeans, because it's just been race-after-race-after race recently," confessed the reigning Margutti Trophy runner-up, "but I'm starting to get excited now. We've had a day's testing at Varennes and were quite quick and I've gone well there in the past too, so we need to see how we compare when everybody is in racing conditions.
"Obviously I want to win, but after the year we've had and knowing that we are up against teams that really have a performance advantage over us at the moment, I would be very happy with a top three or top five finish overall - that would be a great thing to be able to put on my CV.
"I've got to stay out-of-trouble, and if there's just half a chance of going for the big prize I'll go for it, but I would rather go into the weekend with the view that we are the underdogs and then just see what happens. We are in a good position after the first round and I want to capitalise on it. I want to spring a surprise - and I think we can."