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Hawksworth enjoys first test in Indy car (Update) UPDATE
Jack Hawksworth
Firestone Indy Lights rookie and title contender Jack Hawksworth, 22, got his first laps in an Indy car today at the 1.65-mile Sebring International Raceway short course and was as impressed with the Dallara-Honda-Firestone IndyCar Series racing package as the team was with him. He completed 123 laps and set a best lap time that was comparable to others who were also testing.

“It was great, it was fantastic just to get into an Indy car for the first time,” said Hawksworth.  “Just to get to drive one is like a dream come true.  I really enjoyed the first session and enjoyed how much downforce the car had and how much you can attack with this car because it’s just got so much grip you can really be aggressive with it. You can push really, really hard and get down to the limit with it which was really fun.”

Hawksworth, a native of Bradford, Yorkshire, UK, earned his third Firestone Indy Lights win of the season from pole in Baltimore and is only 11 points from the championship lead with two races remaining. He stands fourth in series standings after three wins, six top-three finishes and two poles in 10 events to date. Hawksworth came to Indy Lights in 2013 as the reigning Star Mazda champion after having broken every record previously set in that championship since its inception over 22 years ago.  He won in his Indy Lights debut at St. Petersburg this season and led every lap en route to victories in Toronto and Baltimore. He leads the series in laps led at 168. He was impressed with the difference between the Indy Lights car and the IndyCar Series machine.

“There is a huge difference from driving the Indy Lights car,” added Hawksworth. “The Indy car is a lot more modern and you have a lot more to think about in the car. There are a lot more knobs on the steering wheel and what not. It’s a lot like stepping into the future, driving an Indy car compared to the Indy Lights car. It’s got a lot more grip, a lot more downforce and a bit more power.  It’s just a bigger, faster car and it’s always fun when you jump into something that is a step up. And it certainly was that.”

I tested here in Star Mazda and Indy Lights so I knew the track which was good. It’s a really good place to get up to speed. It’s not a very long lap but it’s got a lot of street course elements to it so it’s very relevant to where the guys race at so. It was a very productive day for myself and the team as well.”

Eddie Jones, who is the race engineer for the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts entry driven by James Jakes, was Hawksworth’s engineer today and was suitably impressed with his fellow Englishman.

“Jack was very impressive,” said Jones. “He has a great attitude and focus. From the first outing it was quite clear that he is very capable. He had a very intelligent approach to the whole test and gave very good feedback. We made some good changes to the car that we were interested in as a team and his feedback was accurate, it compared well to the data and he was fast. There is no doubt he has all the ingredients to be a very good driver at this level.”

“I would love to race in IndyCar, that’s for sure,” concluded Hawksworth. “This has increased my desire to race at this level because I think I can do a good job. I would like to race one of these cars one day. That’s something to look at after I finish my Indy Lights season. I just want to say a very big thank you to everybody at Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Honda and Firestone, Holman Wilfley and all of the people involved in my career that made this opportunity happen. It was a fantastic experience and something I will remember for sure.”

09/17/13 Firestone Indy Lights competitor Jack Hawksworth's first experience in an IZOD IndyCar Series car left him wanting more.

The Englishman, who won the Star Mazda Championship in 2012 and has won three races in Firestone Indy Lights this season, tested a car for Rahal Letterman Racing at Sebring International Raceway on Sept. 17.

"I really enjoyed it," Hawksworth said. "All of the guys made me feel really welcome, I worked well with all the guys, the engineers, mechanics. It was just a fantastic day.

"It was a lot of fun, and I think we had a really strong day as well. What was really cool about it was that we actually went into a test plan. We were testing things, we weren't just going out and doing laps, you were working with an IndyCar team on a test day and trying to develop the car and things that they want to test. I really enjoyed that part of it. It was obviously a bit of an eye opener working with an IndyCar team and the way they work, and it was a great day."

Hawksworth has tested a Firestone Indy Lights car at Sebring, which aided in his adapting to the higher downforce and horsepower produced by an Indy car. 

"The big thing is for me that the braking is different, in the Lights car you can't hit the brake nearly as hard as you can hit it in an IndyCar," he said. "But the way you actually drive the car in terms of how you went into the corner, how you try to get your turning done in the corner is quite similar."

Hawksworth, who is locked in a fierce battle for the Firestone Indy Lights title and the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship given to the champion,  is hopeful of moving up to the IZOD IndyCar Series in the future. The experience of driving the Indy car has only heightened the dream.

"It's a great experience, for sure it's opened my eyes to IndyCar," he said. "If anything it's just made my desire to be in IndyCar more real and just made me even more passionate about it, because I had such a fun day and such a great day."

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