Jess Hawkins has continued her superb start to the Mini Challenge season with another pair of victories, this time at Silverstone. After her two impressive wins at Snetterton, Hawkins was looking for a perfect weekend this time around and was only denied by a red flag in race three. Taking pole position for the opening race, Jess converted this into a victory before leading lights-to-flag in race two. The reverse grid draw put the Excelr8 Motorsport driver in fifth for race three and she had charged through to third before the red flag was displayed on lap nine, nevertheless a hattrick of podiums extends Hawkins lead atop the championship table.
After a positive test session on Friday prior to the weekend, Jess was hunting her second successive pole position as qualifying got underway on Saturday morning. Working with teammate Matt Hammond to utilise the significant slipstream effect on the Silverstone National circuit, Jess immediately went to second behind Hammond in the opening stages of the session. Both drivers continued to improve their time during the session with Jess finding a crucial two tenths on her final two laps to take pole position in the MINI Challenge for the second time in a row.
Starting from pole position, Jess was looking for a positive start and she held the lead after the opening lap. Under significant pressure from the chasing pack, Hawkins was overtaken by Sam Weller on lap three, but stayed in touch with her more experience competitor. By the end of lap five, Jess had re-taken the lead and was starting to pull away from the chasing pack as they battled over the remaining podium places. Steadily building a gap to the drivers behind, Jess was in control of race one and took her third victory in four races to extend her lead atop the Mini Challenge Cooper Class standings.
Once again starting from pole position after her victory the previous day, Hawkins was looking for a repeat performance to set up a possible perfect weekend. Jess made another great start and led the way from Martin Poole who had also enjoyed a superb start. Slowing edging away from the pack, Hawkins took advantage of her rivals squabbling behind her to pull out a gap of almost three seconds to third, with Poole still in contention for the lead. With a series of impressive lap times, Jess pulled away from her rival behind as Poole was demoted to third as Hawkins’ teammate Matt Hammond moved into runner-up spot. In the closing stages, Jess was able to maintain the gap to Hammond behind in order to take her second victory of the weekend, leading every lap of race two in what was a dominant performance.
The reverse grid draw for the final race of the weekend put Jess on the third row of the grid in fifth, with a realistic possibility of completing the treble. Hawkins made a great start and gained a position on the opening lap with the top-four drivers breaking away from the rest of the field. Following teammate Hammond, Jess was able to pass Poole for third on lap four before setting the fastest lap of the race shortly after. The Excelr8 Motorsport drivers then began their pursuit of leader Sam Weller and cut the gap to just over a second by the end of lap seven as the safety car was deployed. Unfortunately, the red flag was displayed shortly after which took away the chance of a memorable treble with Hawkins finishing in third.
Jess once again showed incredible one lap speed, in addition to her impressive racecraft to extend her lead in the Mini Challenge Cooper Pro Class. Two victories, followed by a third place in race three matched her superb showing in the opening meeting at Snetterton with both tracks favouring the chasing drivers with a large slipstream effect. The next meeting of the Mini Challenge will take place at Rockingham where Hawkins will hope to continue her fantastic start to the season and add to her tally of four victories from the opening six races.