Hawksworth revved up for IndyCar test bow with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing|
Jack Hawksworth has been given the chance to demonstrate his mettle at the very highest level of US open-wheel competition, and he says his forthcoming IZOD IndyCar Series test with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) is the perfect opportunity to stake his claim to a step up to the stateside single-seater pinnacle in 2014.
After dominating the Star Mazda Championship at his first attempt during the course of a record-breaking rookie campaign the other side of the pond in 2012, Hawksworth - a native of Bradford, Yorkshire in the north of England - is currently doing battle for a second title in as many seasons, competing for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports one rung further up the ladder in Firestone Indy Lights.
With two races remaining in the fiercely-contested series, the 22-year-old McLaren Autosport Award finalist and British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) SuperStar sits fourth in the standings with three victories to his name, but his more immediate attentions are now turned towards Sebring International Raceway in Florida on September 17, when he will clamber into the cockpit of a fully-fledged, 650bhp IndyCar for the first time.
"I can't wait to get behind the wheel of an IndyCar!" enthused Hawksworth, who carries scholarship funding from the 'Mazda Road to Indy' as well as backing from Sparco USA, Exa Networks, Core Pilates, Arai Helmets and Nicholas Jones.
"I have been working towards this moment since the day I first jumped into a go-kart many years ago, and I feel ready to use all those years of experience now at the highest level. Thank you to my management team, my supporters, Honda, Firestone and RLL for handing me this great opportunity.
Looking further ahead to 2014, I would obviously love to be in an IndyCar seat, and if that happens, my aim will be the same as it has always been - to maximise my potential and that of the team and score as many points as possible. My goal isn't simply to compete in IndyCar, it is to ultimately win IndyCar races and championships - and I know without any doubt that I can."
That conviction is shared by RLL co-owner Bobby Rahal, whose eponymously-named outfit has - since its foundation in 1992 - clinched 20 IndyCar race wins, prevailed in the iconic Indianapolis 500 and lifted the outright championship laurels.
British drivers have established a strong history of success across the Atlantic - think 1993 CART king Nigel Mansell, quadruple IndyCar Champion and three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti and the late Dan Wheldon - and having tracked Hawksworth's progress up to this point, Rahal is confident that the talented and highly-rated young Cullingworth hotshot is the real deal and has what it takes to triumph at the very peak of the sport.
"We are pleased to work with Jack on his first test in an IndyCar and happy that he came to RLL for this monumental experience," commented the three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indy 500 winner, whose partners at RLL are Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan and legendary CBS Late Show host David Letterman.
"We have watched Jack from afar in Indy Lights; he is obviously a proven winner there, and there is no reason to think that he couldn't be competitive in IndyCar and be a future winner there as well. We are anxious to put Jack in the car at Sebring and see how he does."
Report by Russell Atkins