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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)
Bryan Herta Autosport 2015 Indy 500 entry sponsored by Green1. (Picture Credit: Bryan Herta Autosport)
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Will Power celebrates with his team owner Roger Penske after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with his wife Liz after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Team Chevy sweeps the podium as Tony Kanaan (center), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Saturday, August 30, 2014, during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Teammate Scott Dixon (left), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, finishes second, and Ed Carpenter, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet V6, finishes third. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Gregg EllmanLAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, makes a quick pit stop while racing to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Brian Cleary/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship by posing with the Astor Challenge Cup Saturday, August 30, 2014 after the last race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Chevrolet clinches its third straight Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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