New opportunities with Team Hard for Jessica Hawkins

Jessica Hawkins in car (Photo by Marc Waller)

Jessica Hawkins in car (Photo by Marc Waller)On first impressions Jessica Hawkins appears like most other 21 year old females, friendly, relaxed, amicable yet quietly reserved.

Scratch below the surface however and you soon catch a glimpse of that steely determination she displays when behind the wheel of anything on four wheels that is built for speed.

Turning the conversation to racing, a now very animated Jessica happily tells me about her recently announced 2016/2017 racing plans, joining Team HARD’s driver management programme as the latest addition to their Milltek Sport VW Racing Cup driver line-up, testing this year for a full Championship campaign in 2017. “This is manna from heaven, to have a testing schedule prior to hitting the grid so I can be competitive from day one of a full Championship contention. When you sit out of a car for long periods, self-doubt creeps in, but having been involved in giving some hot laps for charity a couple of weeks ago and getting reacquainted with my passion and racing ability, I realised that I haven’t lost it, I just haven’t been firing on all cylinders without any racing in my life”

The last time Jessica was in a seat was last November when she was gifted a guest drive in the MRF Challenge F2000 Bahrain round, the first and only time she got to experience single seater racing above F4 level.

Since then, without a confirmed budget on the horizon, she has been contemplating her future route to achieve her dreams of a professional racing career. Then a random contact from racing nut and friend Gavin Finlayson took an unexpected trajectory and somehow evolved into her current programme with Tony Gilham of Team HARD. Gavin made it his personal mission to help raise Jessica’s profile and find the budget to get her racing again. Understanding the value of social media and connecting with the right people, they set about raising her on-line presence, building her network of business connections, and nurturing his own vast portfolio of contacts to promote her and her talent. Two stressful and exhausting months later, they have secured a budget from principal sponsor Apprentice Supermarket and clothing partner Divon, a fresh and exciting brand of street wear by young new designer Jo Hambleton.

“No way could I have achieved this alone. Believing I have the potential to make it is one thing, but gathering the resources needed to give me the platform to prove it is an entirely different prospect”. Jessica’s racing credentials are not in dispute, with a glowing resume from her karting days enshrined in her racing CV. Her transition into the big league of car racing though has been an altogether tougher challenge littered with a rollercoaster of triumphs and setbacks.

Opportunities to demonstrate her true potential have been sporadic, etched with frustration and disappointment. ‘You have to be in a seat consistently to prove you’re competitive in order to attract the budget, but you have to have the budget in the first place to be on the grid to develop and showcase that talent. Unfortunately I haven’t completed a whole season in anything since I was 16, I’ve bounced from one-off guest appearances to another since then, trying to make the transition to cars in this vacuum. Until last year that is’.

Jessica Focused (Photo by Marc Waller) Jessica in her MSA Formula season in 2015 (Photo by Marc Waller) Jessica in her MSA Formula season in 2015 (Photo by Marc Waller)




Despite her highly regarded reputation for success in karts, drivers have to adapt quickly and recreate that level of attainment throughout their transition into car racing, and it’s a short window of opportunity. Costs increase significantly, and without the required investment to facilitate that continuity it’s easy to understand why so many talented drivers disappear from the public domain. With a hiatus in her development looming, and with her public persona diminishing, Jessica was thrilled to find a sponsor for her car racing debut in the Michelin Clio Autumn Cup, 2013. This offered her a first chance to shine, with a P2 and fastest lap, followed by a guest appearance in Formula Ford and another Clio race in 2014 with another podium, funded by several interested parties generous enough to give her a helping hand. Then, having shown that she is serious about her racing ambition, Jessica was fortunate to secure the backing of VCM Motorsport to contest half a season in the first year of the British FIA F4 in 2015. “You could say this was my apprenticeship in cars, I learned so much from Falcon Motorsport who coached me from effectively a novice to running in the top ten of what is the most competitive junior single seater racing series around. In terms of preparation and race experience there’s no comparison with the front runners, but you have to step up and grab every chance you get, and overall I’m pleased with the improvements I showed, and I loved every minute of the racing. My Gofundme campaign helped too, and every person that has contributed to each track appearance, although my racing has been inconsistent, has played a supporting role in my new and exciting plans”.

“Team HARD have cars in several different racing categories, BTCC the most notable, and that is the ultimate goal for me. Gavin has been brilliant at spotting the commercial possibilities for everyone from the business community that has expressed an interest, which opens the door to all manner of ways to maximise return on their investment. Hopefully Apprentice Supermarket and Divon are just the beginning as we are still in discussions with other parties too”.

Jessica almost purrs with delight and anticipation as she looks forward to getting back behind the wheel. With so many people delivering for her, once out on track it’s her turn to do just that. “I owe so much to so many people, it’s time to repay their faith in me. I have no intention of being the ‘token’ female on that grid, I’m gunning to make my mark”. And that is delivered with an air of hope and a twinkle in her eye! By Gavin Finalyson

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