Podium at Britcar Prototype Cup debut for Jessica Hawkins
Jessica Hawkins made her debut in the Britcar Prototype Cup with a podium finish in her sprint race at the Silverstone GP circuit.
Former W Series racer and current Aston Martin F1 Team ambassador driver Jessica Hawkins contested her first weekend in the Britcar Prototype Cup, immediately claiming a podium finish in her sprint race.
The British driver joined UWR, the University of Wolverhampton Racing Team - a student-led racing team that competes in professional motor racing, providing engineering students in motorsport, automotive, mechatronics, aerospace, manufacturing, mechanical and chemical engineering with opportunities to learn on the field.
"I’ve seen lots of stories about the University and the Racing Team over the years and it’s a great opportunity for me to work alongside the students", said Jessica at the announcement. "An exciting bonus for me is the impetus to get more females interested in STEM subjects."
"We’re also aiming to get more females into the sport and it’s something I’m really passionate about so I’m sure that this is the start of what will be a great relationship. I’ve been racing a long time and there are things I can pass down to the younger generation.”
Hawkins shares the Praga R1 race car with fellow pro racer and University mentor Shane Kelly.
In 2023, the series will be a standalone championship for the first time, having previously been a class on the grid of the Britcar Endurance championship.
Starting from the home of British motorsport at Silverstone, each of the five rounds feature two 25-minute sprint races - one for each of the driver pairings - and one feature 50 minute race with pit stop and driver change.
The team had positive pre-season testing - despite some adverse weather, including snow at Hawkins' first ever outing in the car.
On Saturday, Kelly and Hawkins qualified the #11 Praga R1 in third place, after having three laps deleted in the 30 minute session.
Under the pouring rain, the first race of the season went underway behind the safety car, with pole-sitter Charles Hall leading the pack of prototypes.
When the race went green, Hawkins traded places with Rodolfo Gonzalez, initially passing the former GP2 and Indycar driver form Venezuela at his return to racing. Jessica, though, was then back to third after the first lap of racing, as Hall continued to lead.
Over the course of the next few laps, Gonzalez set the fastest laps and closed in on the leading Mittell Cars #77 Praga.
On lap 5, Hall made a mistake and went wide, opening the door to Rodolfo Gonzalez who was quick to snatch the lead. While Hall did manage to close back in on Gonzalez, the Venezuelan took victory in his first ever Praga race.
With a solid run in third, Jessica Hawkins secured a podium at the first race of the season.
In a still very wet race 2, Jessica Hawkins' teammate Shane Kelly took the lead from third on the grid, while Ruben Stanislaus (Idola Motorsport) dropped to fourth. Kelly eventually extended his lead to over 7 seconds after merely two laps.
Scott Mittell, in second, came under pressure from the #4 Praga R1 of Ben Stone: after a few laps of battling, Stone hit trouble and dropped to fifth with 4 minutes to go, promoting Stanislaus to third. He would then recover to the final step of the podium.
Unchallenged, Kelly won the second sprint race for UWR, bagging important points for the championship.
Hawkins was on driving duties for the first stint of the 50 minute race - for which the UWR duo had a 25 second success penalty at the driver change following the sprint race results.
From the front row and finally in dry conditions, Jessica initially led the pack ahead of Charles Hall and Teddy Wilson. Hall, though, made an early pass for the lead while the former W Series driver also lost second at Stowe.
Stanislaus was looking to join the battle for the podium but he ran into troubles and dropped down the order - leaving Jessica Hawkins free to fight back for the runner up spot.
Jess set the fastest lap of the race on lap 4, but couldn't quite get close enough to Wilson's #4 Praga - who challenged Hull for the lead before positions were restored on lap 8. One lap later, Wilson did manage to make a move stick for the first spot - with also Hawkins closing in on Hall.
The latter pitted on lap 12, one lap before Hawkins, who handed over to Kelly for the second stint with 23 minutes to go. The race leader completed the round of pit stops as the pit window closed and Stone kept first place, ahead of Mittell, Bridle and Kelly - as the UWR team lost third due to the success penalty.
In the last 10 minutes, Kelly steadily closed the 10 seconds gap to Bridle, in an attempt to claim their third podium of the day.
Stone/Wilson took victory in the feature race, ahead of Mittell/Hall and Bridle/Stowell, as Shane Kelly and Jess Hawkins were fourth.
With third in the first sprint race and a win in the second one, though, Hawkins and Kelly laid the foundations for what is looking like a very promising season in the Britcar Prototype Cup.
The next round is scheduled for 22-23 April at the Brands Hatch Indy layout.