Jessica Hawkins has a weekend off

Focused (Photo by Marc Waller)What does a Fast and Furious Live stunt driver do on her weekend off? Well in Jessica Hawkins’ case it seems the answer is more driving as she headed to Snetterton circuit in Norfolk to do a weekend in the Volkswagen Racing cup.

It’s one of the toughest one make championships in the country and features former BTCC races Dennis Strandberg and Martin Depper amongst it’s drivers.

Allumy motorsport had invited Jessica to come and race one of their Volkwagen Golfs and with a weekend off and the prospect at racing around the Snetterton 300 circuit on offer how could she refuse.

Jessica had Friday testing to get used to the car. Although it has lots of similarities to the Mini that she took to lots of successes in 2017, there are some big differences especially with the DSG transmission that the Golf features. The test day had been wet and Jessica had looked strong all day so some rain during the weekend would have been welcome.

But Saturday was warm and sunny and Jess took to the track first thing to qualify. She felt a bit rusty still with her last race having been the previous October also at Snetterton. But of course she has been driving cars almost the entire time since so her reactions have been kept sharp.

This really showed as she took second on the grid. The only car ahead of her was an Audi TT whose slippery shape gave it a straight line speed advantage on the straights. If she was to have any chance of beating it, she would need a great start and lots of luck.

Jessica still hadn’t made a racing start with the DSG gearbox so the first race would be a bit of a step into the unknown. But as the lights went out, Jessica made one of the best starts she has ever made and shot off past the Audi TT into the lead. Around the first lap things were looking good but soon the Audi made it’s straight line speed advantage count and despite Jess going flat out down the straight, it powered past.

Jessica wasn’t going to leave it there and tried to gain on the corners where she was much faster. Sadly the long straights at Snetterton saw the Audi gradually power away.

She now had the two former BTCC drivers, Dennis Strandberg and Martin Depper on her tail. Her car was also starting to suffer from understeer and this caused it to run slightly wide of the ideal line at Riches leaving Strandberg a tiny gap which he took full advantage of.

Jessica was now as determined as she has ever been not to let Martin Depper past into the final podium slot and drove as defensively as she could. For lap after lap she held off Depper despite some very BTCC like moves into the corners.

With only a few laps to go, things were looking good but the tyres by now had given their best and were dropping off rapidly. With ever increasing understeer it was becoming impossible to keep on the defensive line and going into the Wilson hairpin, Depper muscled his way through.

Still fourth place was a great return to racing and it meant the Jessica also won the Hankook trophy. This is awarded in the same way as the Jack Sears trophy is in the BTCC and goes to the highest finishing driver who has never taken a VW Racing cup podium. Of course as this was her debut, Jessica fitted that category.

Jessica made a great start in race one (Photo by Marc Waller) Martin Depper gave Jessica a hard time in race one (Photo by Marc Waller) This broken windscreen ended her race two (Photo by Marc Waller) Jessica got to step on the podium in race one (Photo by Marc Waller)

 

 

 

“That was a great start, the car had lots of understeer which we can try to sort for tomorrow but I’m pleased to get some silverware on my return.” Said Jessica after the race.

Sunday saw race two and Jessica was eager to try and push for an overall podium or maybe even a win. Sadly disaster struck before the race had even got underway. On the green flag lap, the bonnet fastenings failed and the bonnet flew open leaving her windscreen badly damaged. Despite the cracks, Jessica decided she could see well enough to race and she took the start. She ran a strong fifth initially but the stewards decided it wasn’t safe for Jess to race with her windscreen shattered and gave her the black and orange flag meaning she had to pull into the pits. Usually with a black and orange flag, if you fix the problem you can go back out but sadly there is no way to quickly fix a broken windscreen and so Jessica was out.

It was so good to be back in the seat, seemed like forever! It’s been a top job from the guys at Allumy Motorsport! Second in qualifying and some Silverware is brilliant. It was a shame about race two but these things happen in racing. It was great to catch up with some familiar faces too.”

Jessica now goes back to being one of the star stunt drivers in the Fast and Furious live show touring all around Europe. More outings in the VW Racing Cup are a possibility but whatever happens Jessica has proved once again that she ranks amongst some of the best drivers in the UK on track or in the show arena! By Marc Waller 

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