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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Jessica Hawkins makes British GT debut for Beechdean AMR at Oulton Park

Claiming a top-5 finish in the Silver-Am class, it was an encouraging debut for Jessica Hawkins in the British GT Championship, where the Beechdean AMR duo showed promising performance at Oulton Park with a P6 and P5 in class.

Jessica Hawkins, Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3, 2024 British GT, Oulton Park
Photo credits: JEP / SRO

Claiming a top-5 finish in the Silver-Am class, it was an encouraging debut for Jessica Hawkins in the British GT Championship. Alongside teammate Andrew Howard, the Beechdean AMR duo showed promising performance at Oulton Park.

Finishing sixth in class in race one and fifth in race two, the duo’s progress was stalled by a pair of races which saw extensive periods spent under full course yellow. Hawkins will be aiming to continue her development at the next round of the championship on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit.

Jessica’s opportunity to race in the British GT Championship came off the back of the Aston Martin Racing ambassador being appointed Head of Racing for their F1 Academy programme. Teaming up with Beechdean AMR alongside two-time champion Andrew Howard, the pair have set their sights on the Silver-Am championship. The Silver-Am category has expanded in recent years and the close competition seen at Oulton Park is a sign of things to come.

Prior to the race weekend, the teams were given the opportunity to take part in a pre-season test at Oulton Park. The Beechdean AMR crew completed 70 laps across the day, placing fourth in Silver-Am and 11th overall. This was a promising start with Hawkins and Howard carrying this over into Friday’s three test sessions. A total of 48 laps were completed with the Beechdean AMR duo finishing the day with the seventh fastest time in the Silver-Am class.

Saturday morning brought the first of two practice sessions, with free practice one followed by pre-qualifying early in the afternoon. Conditions were bright and dry and although the first session was heavily disrupted by red flags, Hawkins and Howard finished third in Silver-Am while completing the most laps of any team. Another top-5 class result followed in pre-qualifying with the Beechdean AMR drivers confident of a strong result in qualifying.

Qualifying proved to be a challenging session for both Andrew and Jessica, with Howard taking part in the first session. A red flag following an incident for Richard Neary disrupted the momentum of the session, with track limit penalties also playing their part. At the end of the session, Howard had set the 17th fastest time overall, fifth in the Silver-Am class. Jessica’s session was cleaner and she set her fastest laps of the event so far, ending qualifying two in 16th overall and fourth among the Silver-Am runners.

With two, one-hour races at Oulton Park the grid for race one was set by the times from the first qualifying session. Conditions were vastly different with an extremely wet track for Howard’s opening stint, leading to a start behind the safety car. After dropping one overall position at the start, Andrew quickly settled into his rhythm and began setting competitive lap times.

On lap five, an incident between Richard Neary and Carl Cavers moved the Beechdean AMR machine into the podium places within the Silver-Am class. One further position was gained by Howard in the final laps of his stint, before a long full course yellow period neutralised the race.

The cars were instructed to run at a reduced pace throughout the GT3 pit window, with Jessica taking over the Aston Martin Vantage during this period. After the pit cycle was completed, the full course yellow turned into a safety car which bunched up the field, albeit with some GT4 cars in amongst the GT3 runners. Restarting in 15th place overall, fourth in Silver-Am, Hawkins was finding her feet and although dropping behind both Hugo Cook and Martin Plowman, her times continued to improve.

On lap 21, Lewis Plato moved pass to take over the final top-5 position within Silver-Am as Jessica slipped to sixth. Finding more speed as the race progressed, it was a clean debut for Jessica and Andrew who finished 18th overall in GT3, sixth place in the Silver-Am class.

Jessica Hawkins, Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3, 2024 British GT, Oulton Park
Photo credits: JEP / SRO

The track was still wet for race two of the weekend, however the rain had stopped and drier patches were beginning to emerge. All drivers were on wet tyres, with Hawkins taking the start from 16th position, fourth in Silver-Am. Dropping two positions on the opening lap, Jessica did a great job at keeping it clean as the safety car was deployed. Following the restart, Hawkins showed competitive speed with her lap times matching those inside the top-10 as she hunted down her class rivals.

With the track drying, teams had a decision to make whether to pit at the beginning of the window and insert their amateur driver on slick tyres, or to maximise the pro driver’s track time on wet tyres.

Beechdean AMR decided to pit in the middle portion of the pit window, with many of their rivals following suit. Re-joining 17th overall, sixth in Silver-Am, Howard’s initial sectors were encouraging and this led to him to set the fastest lap of the entire race on lap 16. A full course yellow period was then initiated following a spin for Matt Topham, while Morgan Tillbrook had also stopped on track.

Due to extensive circuit repairs, the race remained under full course yellow for the remainder of Andrew’s stint, negating the chance to make further progress. Finishing race two 14th overall, fifth in Silver-Am, it was another solid haul of class points for Howard and Hawkins who also claimed the overall fastest lap of the race.

It was an encouraging debut weekend for Hawkins who adapted well to GT3 machinery at Oulton Park. Racing competitively in a range of conditions, Jessica gained vital experience while driving maturely to bank crucial championship points to start the season.

Hawkins and Howard will return to action at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit on the weekend of 27th/28th April where a place on the Silver-Am class podium will be the target.

Jessica Hawkins, Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3, 2024 British GT, Oulton Park
Photo credits: JEP / SRO



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