Former rivals working together at Firestone Indy Lights Open Test
In 2012, Jack Hawksworth, Gabby Chaves and Sage Karam battled each other for the Star Mazda Championship title.
On March 7 -- the first day of a two-day Open Test for Firestone Indy Lights teams at Sebring International Raceway -- they were working as teammates under the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports banner.
"These guys are my teammates, and I'll work with them, but at the same time they want to win and I'm still going to want to win, so they still are my rivals to a certain extent," Hawksworth said. "All three of the drivers are in three really good cars with a really good team. Hopefully we can push each other on and have a good season."
Hawksworth, who earned the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship by winning the Star Mazda title, and series runner-up Chaves have signed contracts for 2013. Karam, who finished third in Star Mazda last year, got in laps in the No. 8 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car though he hasn't officially joined the team. He hopes to announce plans for 2013 soon. The season opener is March 23 at St. Petersburg, Fla.
Hawksworth drove the No. 77 car that carried Tristan Vautier to the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights title, while Chaves drove the No. 7 car that has earned two of Schmidt's six titles. All three posted times among the leaders in both sessions.
"We've all been working together pretty well and it's good to have teammates you can learn from and help get the best out of each other," Karam said. "Off the track, I'm sure we'll all remain friends, but I think we'll still race each other hard even though we're teammates."
Chaves, who spent a few days with Karam at his home in South Florida before coming to Sebring, has been racing against Karam since they were 10 years old in go-karts. He said having teammates he knows are fast can help the team achieve its goal of defending its series title.
"They're still going to be my rivals," Chaves said. "Now we're going to have to push each other harder because we know we'll have the same conditions. We're still going have to work together because we want the team to do well."