One more round to championship glory for Esmee Hawkey
Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Esmee Hawkey still leads the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro-Am championship, after a challenging Snetterton weekend meant that the British lady marginally came short of securing the title before the season finale of Brands Hatch.
The Porsche Carrera Cup GB 2020 season gets closer to its end with only one round missing after the past weekend's Snetterton double header. British lady Esmee Hawkey remains the title favourite after her remarkable performances since the beginning of the championship: the former W Series driver has so far collected 9 class victories out of the 14 races and has closed all bar one competition on the class podium.
Hawkey entered the penultimate round leading the Pro-Am category, ahead of Team Parker teammate Ryan Ractliffe. The two battled since Friday's free practice session and extended their duel also into Saturday's dry qualifying, which saw Esmee conquering her seventh pole position in a row ahead Ractliffe. By doing so, she also secured the two extra points assigned to the fastest driver in the session, as per the Porsche Carrera Cup GB format, while Porsche GB Junior King secured the overall pole position.
“It was good to get some dry running in during Free Practice One." - commented Esmee.
"I was on old tyres but I was pretty happy with the pace, and happy with what I’d learnt for the weekend. Going into FP2 it was raining so I built up my confidence in the wet. We found some areas to explore with my engineer but were in a good place for the weekend."
"Qualifying went really well and we got the class pole position, and the points that go with it."
Both the two races were contested on Sunday, with Race 1 going underway in wet-weather conditions after the rain had moved onto the Norfolk circuit overnight.
Hanfin had a difficult start that caused a contact between the two Simon Green Motorsport's drivers Lee Frost and Lucky Khera; both were forced to an early retirement, while ahead, Matthew Graham conquered the lead of the pack from the second row. Soon enough, King was able to re-claim the top spot, followed in second place by championship contender Josh Webster, just as Graham had dropped to third.
Ryan Ractliffe had a better start compared to Hawkey and managed to advance to the Pro-Am class lead - a position he would maintain until the chequered flag despite a heated battle for seventh place overall with Will Martin and Ross Wyle on the second lap.
After his slow start, Lorcan Hanafin was protagonist of a solid comeback and ended fifth after a recovering performance throughout the 13 laps of the competition.
Harry King secured once again the race victory - the ninth of the season - with Josh Webster in second and Matthew Graham in third. It wasn't the race 1 that Esmee Hawkey had hoped for, as she crossed the finish line in tenth position, second in the Pro-Am class behind Ryan Ractliffe, but still taking the extra point for the fastest lap.
“We thought it was going to be dry for race one, so slicks on a greasy track, but everyone went on wets as it was too cold to gamble.", she explained.
"If I had I would have been last! We made the right decision and it was a fun race, but I got a bad start. I had a lot of wheelspin off the line and lost out to Ryan (Ratcliffe) and Aaron (Mason). I made the move on the first lap and got past Mason under the bridge, as I knew I had to catch Ryan for the championship."
"I had to manage the tyres as the track was drying, so it was cat and mouse with Ryan, he was as quick as me, but I got the fastest lap and was happy to get the points."
The weather changed again over Sunday, with the drivers taking to the grid of Race 2 in dry conditions.
From pole, Martin managed to get the better start; Josh Webster overtook Matthew Graham for second and Harry King joined the battle in third.
An unstoppable King gained the leadership after recovering two places in just two corners on the second lap. From that moment, he managed a commading race from the top spot.
Webster tried to keep alive the championship fight and moved to second, but there was nothing to do against King's dominance for the whole 14-laps race duration.
In the Pro-Am class, Ractliffe advanced to the top spot on Esmee Hawkey, as the two battled for the leadership in the opening stages of the race before the intromission of third-placed Aaron Mason.
The battle for the Pro-Am second race victory ended on lap six for Esmee, when she found herself on the grass as she tried to pass Mason. That allowed her two rivals to build a confortable gap up to the finish line, denying the Brit of a round victory at Snetterton.
The mid-field action was characterized by another big fight for fourth between Martin, Graham, Hanafin, MacLeod and Kimber.
By conquering his 10th victory of the season, Harry King was declared 2020 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion in his Rookie season, while Ryan Ractliffe kept alive his Pro-Am title ambitions by securing Race 2 class win ahead of Mason and Hawkey.
“I got a good start to race two but I wasn’t able to get Ryan off the line. Going into the hairpin I ran wide onto the kerb and Mason managed to pass me as my tyres were not up to temperature. He’s quite a hard driver to race against but a few laps in I went for a move up the inside into turn two but locked up the rear wheels and span."
"I realised I wasn’t going to be able to chase Mason and get back up there, so I was focused on getting the fastest lap of the race. I really wanted to finish the ProAm championship in race two, but it wasn’t to be."
Despite the unlucky weekend, Esmee Hawkey still leads the Pro-Am standings with a 23 points advantage over Ractliffe - as the title fight will be decided in 3 weeks time at the Brands Hatch season finale, Esmee's home race.
"We had a tough one at Snetterton this weekend coming home with a 2nd and 3rd, just missing out on wrapping up the Pro-Am championsip!", said Hawkey.
We will bring our A game to Brands Hatch in 3 weeks time!" - she wrote on her social media feeds.
“I’m feeling confident going to Brands Hatch though and it’s my home track. It shouldn’t be too difficult to wrap up the title, I just need to get pole and its done.”