Jessica (centre) on the winner's podium in 2017
Jessica Hawkins was second in the John Cooper Mini Challenge in 2017. She was a multiple race-winner in her first really successful season, finally displaying the talent she showed in a kart.
As a junior, she won several karting championships, and featured strongly in some major ones.
In the face of a series of difficult sponsorship situations, she got onto the grid for the 2014 Renault Clio Cup. This was in part thanks to winning a testing shootout organised by the BWRDC, and was helped by some further experience in the car in the 2013 Autumn Trophy. In the end, she only seems to have driven in two rounds, at Brands Hatch, but she was third and fourth. Her team-mate was Jodie Hemming, recently returned to competitive action. Jodie was acting as her driver coach too.
Later in the season, she raced in the British Formula Ford Championship, at Silverstone, scoring two tenths, and an eleventh place. She was team-mate to Michael O’Brien, a fellow youngster.
In 2015, she chose the single-seater route, and entered the MSA Formula series. This was a transitional formula between Formula Ford and Formula 4, as it would become in 2016. It was a difficult season, and she just missed out on a top-ten spot at Rockingham and Snetterton. She was 23rd overall, after competing for just over half a season. She was part of a strong field, including Lando Norris, Dan Ticktum and Enaam Ahmed.
During the winter season, she raced in the MRF Challenge in the Middle East. She managed two fifteenth places at Bahrain. These were her only two races in the championship.
Part-way through 2016, she joined Team HARD Racing for the VW Racing Cup, and was ninth and eighth at Brands Hatch, driving a Golf. She did enter the third race at Brands but did not finish. This experience put her back on her original track of saloon racing, which would pay off.
Jessica’s first race in the 2017 Mini Challenge ended in a win from pole. She followed that up with another win from the front. She aimed for a clean sweep of the Snetterton meeting, but had to settle for third in the third race. She repeated this exactly at Silverstone: two wins, two poles, then a third. She won one more race at Rockingham and earned a further six podium places from eleven races. She could have won the championship if her early momentum had lasted, but she was still a strong second in what was her first full season of competition.
Her sights are now set on a career in tin-tops and she has completed the first year of a three-year plan, which will take her into the BTCC.
(Image from www.excelr8motorsport.com)