Jack Hawksworth’s impressive debut weekend ends with restart accident

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English rookie Jack Hawksworth entered St. Petersburg this weekend a bit of a wild card in the No. 98 Charter/Castrol Edge Honda for Bryan Herta Autosport.

He had two prior wins in his last two trips here, one apiece in Star Mazda (2012) and Indy Lights (2013). But for his first weekend in a Verizon IndyCar on a street circuit, Hawksworth and the single-car BHA squad definitely punched above their weight.

Hawksworth was in the mid-teens to borderline top-10 in Friday’s two practice sessions. Come Saturday, he missed qualifying in the Firestone Fast Six by mere hundredths of a second.

From eighth, Hawksworth ran well and was part of one of the race’s most exciting moments.

The Englishman was involved in a three-wide battle down the front straight with Juan Pablo Montoya and Marco Andretti, with Hawksworth diving to the inside on corner entry in a bold move.

It reminded me a bit of when Josef Newgarden attempted, but was unable to complete, a move around the outside of Dario Franchitti for the lead at Turn 1 in Long Beach, 2012.

This was Hawksworth, a late add to the team instead of projected winter favorite Luca Filippi, announcing his arrival and saying “I’m not afraid to mix it up with you guys.”

Unfortunately for Hawksworth, his race would end in contact with Andretti after the accordion effect stack-up on a Lap 83 restart.

“It wasn’t the end to the race that we wanted, unfortunately,” said the Bradford, U.K. native. “It was really out of our control and took us out of the race. I just want to say that the guys did a great job. We had some really good pace on the reds and I think that’s promising, going forward. Now we just go to Long Beach and hopefully we get what we deserve but overall it was a positive day up until then.”

Considering Hawksworth has been with the team less than a month, this was an impressive weekend debut, and could portend bigger and better things for the future.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.