Esmee Hawkey crowned Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro-Am champion
In the Brands Hatch season finale, home hero Esmee Hawkey was crowned 2020 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Champion in the Pro-Am class after an impressive season with 9 class wins and 15 podiums.
After a very competitive season in the fastest one-make series in UK, Esmee Hawkey entered the season finale round at her home circuit with the clear aim in mind: clinching the 2020 Porsche Carrera Cup GB title in the Pro-Am category.
The British lady arrived at the final race event of the season with a comfortable gap to her main championship rival, Ryan Ractliffe, but still with no mathematical certainty to claim the long-awaited honor.
Ractliffe proved since the early practice sessions to be in Brands Hatch to play his last chances and do everything in his power to reverse the championship situation: he was fastest in both practice sessions and in qualifying, conquering the Pro-Am pole position ahead of new entry Jake Rattenbury and Esmee Hawkey.
For the first time since the start of season, the already-crowned 2020 overall champion Harry King did not score pole - which went to Scott McKenna instead.
"Practice was okay." - commented Hawkey. "We weren’t quite there in terms of pace and Ryan was a bit faster than us, but at the end of the day we knew we just had to finish a race and it would be job done. In qualifying I was third, just being pipped by [Jake] Rattenbury."
Strong of her championship position, the former W Series driver knew that she only needed one point to secure the title and drove wisely, avoiding risks that could have costed her unnecessary troubles. On the other hand, Ryan Ractliffe had to play all his cards and ran in seventh overall position, fighting in between Pro drivers Sam Martin and Sam MacLeod in the desperate attempt to collect the most possibile points for the championship.
The Pro-Am title contender managed to lead the trio of cars for some laps, but on lap 13 the two Pro class drivers overtook him and ultimately ended Ractliffe's title ambitions.
With a cautious race, Esmee Hawkey crossed the finish line in second position at the chequered flag, just behind her Team Parker's teammate, and was proclaimed 2020 Pro-Am class Champion.
Starting from the second grid slot, King went into the overall lead in the opening lap and once again signed his way to victory. Another early protagonist was Matthew Graham, who passed Hanafin for third on the first lap and successively stepped up to second with a good move on pole-sitter McKenna.
Scott McKenna and Hanafin were then engaged in a close battle for the final place on the podium: on lap 27, Hanafin ended his run in the gravel at the iconic Paddock Hill bend after a late move which caused the Safety Car intervention in order to remove his stricken car from the run-off.
The race restarted with few minutes left on the clock, with Harry King as the undisputed leader up until that point: at the green flag, though, his leadership came under strong pressure: Matthew Graham attacked him on lap 30 and McKenna joined the fight one lap later. The second and third placed drivers made contact at Druids and both dropped towards the back of the field - thus allowing Mark Kimber to advance into second place and Martin to third, as King once again took home the overall victory.
After a post-race penalty inflicted to Kimber, the Brookspeed Connect IT driver was dropped from the podium and Martin and Webster were promoted to second and third place respectively.
Esmee Hawkey was eighth, second in ProAm class.
"In race one I just wanted to go out, keep it clean, keep it consistent and get that one point that I needed to win the championship." - she said. "I was just really cautious about who was around me and made sure not to make any stupid decisions or mistakes."
"The track was really greasy, which aren’t my preferred conditions as a driver, but I was really happy with P2 and it wrapped up the championship there and then."- continued the freshly-crowned Champion.
Race 2 saw the starting positions being determined by a inversion of the top five overall finishers from the previous race result.
McLeod and Kimber held their positions at the top of the field with a positive start, while behind them Martin made the move on Webster for third. King tried to join the fight for the victory and close in on the top three on lap 2 despite starting from fifth.
King reached P3 on lap 5 by passing Martin at Poddock Hill and a few laps later, he moved up to second place when he overtook MacLeod at Clearways.
After losing the second position, MacLeod's race came to an early end when on lap 12 he found the gravel at Druids - the action being interrupted by the Safety Car.
On the same lap, King completed his remarkable charge from fifth and moved up into the lead of the race.
At the restart, Martin took advantage from a mistake by Kimber and reached the second spot, while - just like in Race 1 - Graham and McKenna made contact. The incident also involved Hawkey, Ractliffe and Hanafin.
The drivers dropped down the order without sustaining car damages, but a few laps later Hanafin ended his race in the gravel.
Harry King took the last chequered flag of the 2020 season and secured another impressive victory, joined in the overall podium by Martin and Kimber.
Taking advantage from the incident unfolding in front of him, Aaron Mason won his first Pro-Am race, with Hawkey in second and the new-entry Rattenbury in third.
"I was expecting a wet race two but actually the forecast changed so we had a dry track and were out on slicks." - summed up Esmee.
"I got a good start but [Aaron] Mason just managed to get past me, then I was on the outside of turn two and couldn’t really see Ryan in my mirrors, so he managed to get past as well. I was running in third but an incident between Ryan and [Scott] McKenna meant that Ryan went wide, and I ended up getting second. I was catching Mason towards the end, but we ran out of laps."- she said.
At the end of a very positive Porsche Carrera Cup GB campaign, 22-year old Esmee Hawkey won the Pro-Am title with a 20 points advantage to teammate Ryan Ractliffe, turning a very tricky year for motor racing into a resounding success. She scored nine victory and 15 podiums out of 16 races.
"All-in-all I’m super happy to be going home a champion. It’s been a great year, a year that we didn’t know was going to go ahead, and it did, so I’m thrilled that we’ve finally got the Pro-Am championship underneath us and I’m excited for what’s to come in 2021.”