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Hawksworth sets sights on Lights, and beyond

Jack Hawksworth talks to Crash.net about his gamble moving to the US, and how fairytale success in 2012 now paves the way for a year in Indy Lights - and soon, maybe even on to IndyCar.
British driver Jack Hawksworth took a big risk with his motor sports career when he decided to move to the US in 2012 at the age of 21, to try his hand in US open wheel racing in the Star Mazda Championship - the first step on the 'Road to Indy' ladder to future stardom.

To say that the decision to move to the States proved a massive success is an understatement. The former Formula Renault UK driver smashed all expectations in his rookie season in America, setting new Star Mazda Championship records for the most wins, poles and fastest laps (eight, ten and ten respectively over the course of the 16 completed rounds of the year with Team Pelfrey) on his way to clinching the 2012 title.

"Yeah, it was really good decision," Hawksworth told Crash.net at the weekend while attending the Autosport International show in Birmingham. "I made the decision at the start of last year that we were going to try a something a little bit different and were going to go over to the States.

"I thought I had a good opportunity out there. A lot of things came together and it ended up being a really good year, and now because of that I've got another really good opportunity to go racing out there next year and potentially keep climbing the Road to Indy ladder system," he added.

Crucially the championship comes complete with a $600,000 scholarship to put towards a seat in the 2013 Firestone Indy Lights Series, and it had been this incentivising aspect of the US open wheel racing system that made all the difference to Hawksworth when trying to determine the best way to further his motor racing career.

"It was actually the sensible thing to do," he explained of the decision to move to America 12 months ago. "Racing in Europe at the moment is difficult to climb the European ladder system. There's not really any scholarships or prizes for winning championships or anything.

"You're really relying on somebody to step in and take you to the next level whilst in America there is that kind of certainty that if you do win the championship there is going to be the scholarship funding from Mazda to take you up to the next step," he continued. "So it made a lot of sense to go out there, purely because of the fantastic support of Mazda, and stuff like that."

The scholarship money that he won in 2012 has now helped secure him a seat with the top team in the Firestone Indy Lights series, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, which was previously behind Tristan Vautier's championship-winning campaign last year.

"I'm really pleased to have Jack join SSM in 2013," team owner Sam Schmidt said when the signing was announced in December. "I watched his progress very closely this year in Star Mazda. He did a fantastic job, especially since he had not raced in the US before and everything was unfamiliar.



Related Pictures

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Jack Hawksworth on track in his Team Pelfrey Star Mazda Championship car (Picture credit: Eric McCombs for IndyCar Media)
Jack Hawksworth at the wheel of his Team Pelfrey Star Mazda Championship car (Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Jack Hawksworth joins Sam Schmidt Motorsports for Firestone IndyLights in 2013 (Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Jack Hawksworth receives his trophy after winning the 2012 Mazda Star Championship (Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates winning the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg with third-place finisher Tony Kanaan (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates winning the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Start of the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6; and Tony Kanaan (right), driver of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6; celebrate with Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who raced to victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power finished second. Kanaan finished third. Chevrolet took the top six places in the first race of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher)
Juan Pablo Montoya enters Turn 3 during the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power clash in the closing laps of the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal waits on pit lane prior to practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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