Esmee Hawkey Interview – Pit Crew Exclusive

2019 is already shaping up to be a promising year for Esmee Hawkey. The 21 year old successfully made it through the W Series’ tough qualifying rounds to earn one of 18 spots on the grid, and she has also made a strong start to her second season in Porsche Carrera Cup GB.

Hawkey fought back from 14th on the grid to finish sixth in the opening race of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB season this weekend, finishing second in class. While the second race proved tougher, with Hawkey finishing in ninth place, she showed good pace all weekend, running first in class in both FP1 and FP2.

Before the weekend began, Hawkey took the time to tell us about her aims for the busy season ahead of her, as well as giving us an insight into what went on behind the scenes in the W Series qualifying rounds.

Photo credit: Warren S Nel

Alison Finlay: Congratulations for making it to the W Series grid – how tough did you find the qualifying rounds and the level of competition?

Esmee Hawkey: The qualifying rounds were extremely tough. We were out in Almeria for a week, so mentally, it was extremely draining. To be in with the chance of having a free drive in an F3 car is a lot of pressure and you have to perform well. We were being tested on absolutely everything, from when we were in the car driving, to sitting down going through data with the engineers, so you had to have 100% full focus at all times! Aside from that it was great to go from driving Porsche Caymans and Ford Fiestas, being selected as 1 of 28 girls in Melk, and then getting 4 days to drive the all new Tatuus F3 car in Spain. The competition has been really high so it was important to have a positive mindset and not let any of that effect you. It was important to concentrate on solely you and what you were doing and how you could improve and progress every day.

AF: What are your aims for the season ahead in both W Series and Porsche Carrera Cup GB?

EH: I will be pushing for the best possible results. It will be my second year in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship in the ProAm category. After a successful year with a few podiums last year, we will be looking to build on that this year and hopefully have some race wins, podiums and ultimately be in with a fighting chance to win the ProAm championship. In regards to W Series the competition is tough, with some of the girls having raced in F3 championships before, therefore having more experience than me. Nonetheless, I will be taking in as much information as possible so that I speed up my rate of progression and I would really like to be finishing in the top 6 for the first year of W Series.

AF: You’ve been racing Porsches for a few years now – can you tell us more about the series and how these cars are to drive?

EH: The cars are amazing. One of my sponsors are Porsche Centre South London, so not only do I get to drive the GT3 Cup Car on track but I also get to drive around in Porsche road cars when I’m not racing which is definitely a nice perk! The GT3 cup car is a great race car but quite a tricky car to drive – it’s very important to drive them with the right braking technique otherwise you can lose a lot of time, and not only that, but you need to always be chasing the throttle but not in a way that you cause the car to understeer.

AF: How was driving the W Series F3 car for the first time?

EH: The car was amazing and I absolutely loved driving it. It’s very different in comparison to the Porsche GT3 Cup Car as there was no power steering and I had to get used to the aerodynamics and downforce of the F3 car. I quickly got to grips with it and it was amazing how much speed you could take through the corners. Such an adrenaline rush!

AF: Does taking part in the W Series and having the opportunity to race a formula car change your ambitions beyond the 2019 season?

EH: My plans have always been to race in GT cars, but not because I didn’t want to race in formula cars – it was mainly the fact our budget could only stretch to racing in GT cars. So my long term goal was to rise up the Porsche pyramid and race in the Le Mans 24hr. Now that W Series has come about and is fully funding 18 girls to race around Europe in F3 cars with a prize pot of $1.5 million dollars at the end of the year, who knows what the future holds for us.

AF: We hear a lot about drivers struggling for funding to help them onto the junior ladder. Could you tell us why funding is so vital for young racing drivers?

EH: Unfortunately funding plays a big part in motorsport, and it’s why we sometimes don’t get to see some really talented drivers make it all the way, or indeed start their journey. I’ve been very fortunate, of course, and now have some great sponsors such as Porsche Centre South London, Landmark Underwriting and others. Motor racing costs money, it’s as simple as that, so we make sure we really work hard with our sponsors and partners to create value and make sure we’re attracting new sponsors along the journey.

AF: When do you think we will see the next woman racing in Formula 1, and what role do you think W Series will play in making this a reality?

EH: I definitely think W Series has created a platform to give 18 women this year the best opportunity to rise up from F3 into either F2, Formula E or even F1, so I really hope that in the next couple of years we will see a woman racing in Formula 1. It all comes down to opportunity and W Series is definitely the start of that journey.

AF: How did you first get involved in motorsport? Did you always want to be a driver, or did you consider other roles within the industry?

EH: I got into motorsport through my dad. As a young girl I remember going to watch him race at the Monaco Kart Cup and at the time I was doing Ballet and Tap dancing and I asked him if I could get into racing. To my surprise, for my 8th Birthday I got given a kart and that’s where it all started! I’ve wanted to succeed as a professional racing driver ever since.

AF: Finally, what advice would you give for young women hoping to pursue a career in motorsport, either as drivers or in any other capacity?

EH: I think it’s important that we get more women into motorsport whether it be as a driver, mechanic, engineer or on the media side, so my advice to any young women hoping to pursue a career in motorsport would be go for it, as there are so many opportunities that come up and it can be such a rewarding job.

Quick 10 With…..Dino Zamparelli

He began in karting, the usual route for racing drivers, before moving to the Ginetta Junior Championship in 2007. The following season he took 10 wins and 5 podiums to claim the Ginetta Junior title.

It was in 2009 that he moved to Formula Renault BARC and finished third with 2 wins. The following season he competed in two Formula Renault BARC races and also in the Italian Formula 3 Championship but it was in 2011 that he returned full time to Formula Renault and took the championship title with four wins on the way. That very same season he was a finalist in the 2011 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.

He moved to the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2012 and the following season signed for Marussia Manor Racing to compete in GP3 as part of their Young Driver Programme.

He made the switch to sportscar racing in 2015 and began competing in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, he finished 6th in the championship in his first season and in 2016 and this season finished runner-up to Dan Cammish and Charlie Eastwood respectively.

His dream is to race Le Mans, these are his Quick 10 and he is…..Dino Zamparelli.

What is your favourite racing circuit?

My favourite circuit has to now be Le Mans. I’m not sure it’s the traditional answer as it’s very much a one-off race circuit. But I raced there this year at the Le Mans support race in Porsche Carrera  Cup and it blew me away. It was just amazing and very enjoyable. Over 4 minutes long and the corners were incredible. Other than that, under the normal circuits, Spa and Silverstone are my two favorites. Both for having so much history and some epic corners.

Who was your racing idol?

I suppose I used to love watching Michael Schumacher growing up. I loved his desire to win at all costs.

Who would you regard as your toughest opponent?

Well recently, over the last 3 seasons of Porsche racing, I’ve enjoyed a tough battle against Dan Cammish. Him and his team Redline have been a super consistent and fast package. We ran him close to the title for half a season in 2016, and had some great duels. I wasn’t happy with the performance of my team mid-year onwards, so changed to JTR for 2017 – we had a strong year and had some great battles against Dan and eventual champion Eastwood. Eastwood won it by taking one more win than I did but we scored exactly the same points. It was another good season in Porsche with a new team, and I thoroughly enjoyed racing against Cammish again in 2017.

Considering racers of all time, you are a team principal and money is no object. Which two racers would you have in your team?

I used to really enjoy watching Juan Pablo Montoya in his prime, when he first burst onto the F1 scene with Williams. He was fast and feisty. So I would probably have him as my driver. I’m also a huge fan and always have been of Fernando Alonso. Both drivers would be capable of winning the championship on pure speed and talent. And both drivers would provide an awful lot of entertainment over the radio comms I’m sure!

If you could invite four famous people to dinner (past and present), who would you invite?

I’d invite my favourite comedian to make me laugh, Ricky Gervais. I’d invite James Hunt, to sit and listen to his countless stories from the 70s. I can’t think of another two, so I’d get Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg along and subtly have every collision they ever had on TV in the background and sit them next to each other. Give them both a beer and see what happened over the night.

Your personal racing number? What was it and the reason behind it?

It’s number 8 because I like it and believe it’ll bring me luck, like the Chinese.

What is the best race you have been involved in?

I would say one of the best races recently was this year at Le Mans for the Porsche Carrera Cup support race. Four of us could have won the race going into the last lap. I climbed back up from 4th to finish 2nd in the end, and we were all nose to tail. I was gutted not to win it overall, out of 60 cars at the famous circuit, but it was an epic battle. It got put up on Facebook later on and received well over 1.5 million views!

Is there a race or series you have not competed in that you would like to or had wanted to?

I always admired the intensity and race craft of Formula Ford. The overtaking in that series was seemingly every lap/every corner. It always looked like a lot of fun. I’d quite liked to have also given GP2 a proper crack. I tested a GP2 car in Abu Dhabi and it was amazing, so I can only imagine racing them would have been a huge experience. F1 as well was the dream when I was younger. Although for pure racing, it would be more GP2/Formula Ford.

How did you get interested in motor racing? What ignited that spark?

It was a local karting track in France where I lived at the time. I went round a few times and got the bug. I never looked back ever since. My wallet certainly has, a number of times.

What is the best advice in racing you have been given?

The best advice I’ve been given is that ‘Motor Racing is primarily a business’. In other words, someone somewhere has to pay for it, be it sponsors, family or manufacturers. This bit of advice helped me to carve out my Porsche sponsorship programmes and continue to race in sports cars, and hopefully allow me to race for many years to come. It’s the advice I say to every young driver who asks me. If you’re quick, then 99% of the time it isn’t enough, you have to offer more than that.

Dino Zamparelli

I have to agree with Dino regarding the Porsche race at Le Mans, I was on the edge of my seat during that race. Epic battle!

I would like to thank Dino for taking the time to answer the Quick 10 and wish him the very best for 2018 and hopefully one day, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

(c) All photos courtesy of Dino Zamparelli and for more photos visit his Facebook page here

You can also visit Dino at https://www.dinozamparelli.com/

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

 

Porsche Carrera Cup GB – Knockhill

Cammish And Eastwood Clash As Tensions Grow In The Scottish Hills


The anticipation of two exciting races was fuelled in no small part by the unfolding championship battle between Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing), Dan Cammish (Redline Racing) and Dino Zamparelli (JTR). While Eastwood and Cammish held the advantage with dropped scores factored in, all three needed to win at all costs to keep their title hopes alive. Behind and closer than ever, the remainder of the Pro category could see their opportunity for a first win getting nearer.

Against this backdrop, Knockhill produced two races that did not disappoint and provided arguably more excitement – and certainly more debate – than even rounds eight and nine. Cammish converted his pole position in round ten into a win in his traditional style, despite periods of firm pressure from Zamparelli behind. However, in round eleven, a clash between pole sitter Eastwood and the defending champion resulted in Cammish failing to finish, Eastwood losing three points and facing a ten-place grid penalty for round twelve.

In Pro-Am1, championship leader Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) once again shared a win and second with Alex Martin (Team Parker Racing), leaving the gap between the pair unmoved at a slender three points. John McCullagh (Redline Racing) claimed his second podium of the season in round ten, but a start line incident saw the 2015 Pro-Am2 champion sidelined for round eleven.

Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) took a pair of Pro-Am2 wins, his seventh and eighth of the season, to boost his championship hopes and move him to five points adrift of Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing), who came away with third and second places. Iain Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing) took a pair of category pole positions in his strongest showing to date, second and third keeping him within nine points of Jennings at the top of the table with four rounds to go.

Round ten

Anticipation was high for an entertaining race as Dan Cammish (Redline Racing) led the field around for the rolling start. From the very first corner the race was not to disappoint. Cammish made a good start, but team mate Charlie Eastwood’s was even better. As Eastwood positioned himself for a challenge, a hit from behind pushed him wide and left enough space for Dino Zamparelli (JTR) to move into second, the Bristol driver making his intentions clear from the off.

Also making the best of the start were local brothers Dan and Euan McKay (Redline Racing), Dan making the most progress into fourth from sixth, Euan up one place to fifth and pushing Dan hard. Losing out was Tom Oliphant (Redline Racing), shuffled down to seventh behind Lewis Plato (JTR). Their battle would build throughout the race, but at the front Zamparelli was inching up on Cammish with Eastwood close behind.

As Plato passed Euan McKay on the second lap, Cammish and Zamparelli were trading almost identical sector times while Eastwood settled into an almost lonely third place. The order was almost disturbed when Zamparelli lost time on his eighth lap to fall back into the clutches of Eastwood, allowing Cammish to slip away by just over one second. The following lap it was Eastwood’s turn to loose time at Chicane, giving Zamparelli some breathing space.

By lap 17, traffic was playing a critical part in the battle for the lead which Cammish had extended to around three seconds. First to arrive and faced with making his way through some good battles in the other categories, Cammish had to watch the gap to Zamparelli reduce to just seven tenths of a second. However, back onto a clear section of track, the reigning champion pulled back half a second in just one lap and took the flag with over two seconds in hand from Zamparelli.

Eastwood held on to third, but behind two JTR drivers had been on the move. Plato passed Dan McKay for fourth on lap 11 at Taylors after having posted fastest lap of the race. Tio Ellinas also had strong pace and set about passing Euan McKay on lap 15 into Duffus Dip and Dan McKay into Taylors on lap 26. Separating the JTR team mates was Oliphant in fifth, unable to continue his fight back past a defensive Plato.

Local driver Ross Wylie (Slidesports) had a good race with Jamie Orton (IN2 Racing), coming through as second-placed Rookie in ninth. Tom Wrigley (IN2 Racing) was not able to celebrate his birthday in race one at least, contact with Matt Telling (Welch Motorsport) on lap 31 putting both drivers out at Clarks.

In Pro-Am1, all three drivers ran close together for the every one of the 32 laps, the win going to Alex Martin (Team Parker Racing) who relentlessly edged away from Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) in second. Shadowing Sherwood in third was the returning John McCullagh (Redline Racing), happy to take his second podium in three races on a circuit that has not been the kindest to him in the past.

Pro-Am2 once again provided some of the closest racing, Iain Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing) holding the lead from Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) away from the start with David Fairbrother (Slidesports) passing Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) for third. Jennings came back into a podium position after Fairbrother, on his first visit to Knockhill, ran through the gravel at McIntyre and dropped back.

While Kyle-Henney took Dockerill for a lead he would maintain to the flag, Jennings was in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Telling for the final podium position. On lap 16 Telling passed to take the position, only for Jennings to reclaim it the very next lap. A spin into Chicane on lap 20 for Telling put paid to the battle and allowed Rupert Martin (Team Parker Racing) to claim fourth.

Round eleven

Eastwood made a good start from pole position, Cammish tucking in behind off the line to follow his team mate into Duffus. Sprinting away from the second row was Zamparelli, the JTR driver passing Oliphant who was slow to pick up momentum. Behind, Wylie was squeezed onto the grass as he left the line and spun, collecting an unfortunate McCullagh and putting both drivers out of the race.

At the end of lap six the safety car pulled in, Eastwood looking to make a break but with Cammish pushing him all the way. Within three laps Eastwood had posted fastest lap to edge away from Cammish as Zamparelli inched ever closer to Cammish. The contest looked to have stabilised until on lap 20 Eastwood began to lap traffic.

As the leader negotiated the cars ahead, Cammish began to apply the pressure and Eastwood’s defence backed the pair into Zamparelli. With each fighting for their own championship, Zamparelli made a move on Cammish at Taylors, a move which almost saw Zamparelli take to the grass on his run to the line and lose momentum. This freed Cammish to resume his assault on Eastwood, and left Zamparelli to defend from a fast approaching Oliphant.

By lap 30, Cammish was making his most concerted effort yet to dislodge Eastwood from the lead, once again allowing Zamparelli and now Oliphant to close back in. Cammish gained a run on Eastwood into Clarks on the penultimate lap, drawing alongside the leader on the exit. Eastwood exited wide, causing Cammish to run onto the grass and make contact with the barriers, ending his race. After an inquiry that went to the stewards, it was decided Eastwood should be handed a 10-place grid penalty for round twelve and be docked three championship points.

Eastwood recovered to defend from Zamparelli who had inherited the momentum, Zamparelli in turn running wide at Taylors on the run to the flag and causing Oliphant, who had committed to a move around the outside, onto the grass. Oliphant recovered, albeit with an advertising hoarding wrapped around the front of his car, to take his second podium of the season.

Behind the leaders, the battle was no less fraught. By lap 15 Plato had caught Euan McKay, bringing Dan McKay and Ellinas with him. As the quartet scrapped, Dan McKay ran around the outside of Plato at Taylors for sixth, losing the back end of the car on the exit and only just saving the slide before reaching the grass on the inside. Ellinas inherited sixth position and Wrigley seventh after a move into Duffus Dip as Plato dropped to eighth in avoidance. Dan McKay recovered to ninth, before running through the gravel at McIntyre on the same lap.

Plato retook seventh from Wrigley, and began to close on Ellinas who was fighting hard with Euan McKay. As Plato put Ellinas under pressure, contact between the Cypriot and Euan McKay ahead put McKay into the gravel and earned Ellinas a 15 second penalty and the loss of three championship points.

After the early exit of McCullagh, Pro-Am1 became a straight fight between Martin and Sherwood. Sherwood had made the best of the start to take the lead from Martin, although by lap 12 the gap was down to just two seconds. As Martin closed, he ran wide at Clarks, just managing to recover but handing Sherwood the win.

Kyle-Henney took the lead in Pro-Am2 at the start after pole-sitter Dockerill was forced to avoid the start line incident. Jennings came through for second with Dockerill third and Fairbrother fourth. The four drivers were covered by less than three seconds, but that order remained to the flag with Martin fifth and Telling sixth. Dockerill’s weekend was enough to earn him the ‘Driver of the Weekend’ award, and Asset Advantage Racing ‘Team of the Weekend’.

As the championship crescendo continues to build, follow the battles at @CarreraCupGB on Twitter and /CarreraCupGB on Facebook.

Championship positions

Overall:
Charlie Eastwood  Redline Racing  180
Dino Zamparelli  JTR  172
Dan Cammish  Redline Racing  152

Pro-Am1:
Justin Sherwood  Team Parker Racing  89
Alex Martin  Team Parker Racing  86
Graeme Mundy  Team Parker Racing  48

Pro-Am2:
Shamus Jennings  G-Cat Racing  85
Peter Kyle-Henney  IN2 Racing  80
Iain Dockerill  Asset Advantage Racing  76

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

Photographs courtesy of Porsche Carrera Cup GB (c)