With IndyCar off during next weekend’s Brickyard Grand Prix, chances were good at least one IndyCar shoe would be making a guest appearance in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
That said, chances are Jack Hawksworth wouldn’t have been the first name you’d thought of for the cameo.
But indeed Hawksworth, the 23-year-old English IndyCar rookie, has got the call to replace Alex Tagliani in the No. 08 RSR Racing Oreca FLM09 in the Prototype Challenge class, alongside Chris Cumming.
Tagliani is suspended for the Indianapolis race following his practice accident at Watkins Glen. Coincidentally, Hawksworth also took over as full-time driver of Tagliani’s IndyCar at Bryan Herta Autosport this season.
“I just keep taking his seats it seems,” Hawksworth joked. “But yeah, he’s been suspended, and the RSR guys had a seat open and asked if I’d be willing to do it. I’ve got the weekend off, Bryan said I could, so it makes a lot of sense to keep me sharp.”
Although he’s never driven a PC car, Hawksworth will join fellow Englishman Martin Plowman as the only two drivers with track experience on the modified Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Hawksworth dominated the opening half of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis race, leading a race-high 31 laps before finishing seventh.
He expects the PC car should be on par or just slightly slower than an Indy Lights chassis, which he raced to three race wins in 2013.
“There’s similar power; but from what I hear the PC has maybe more aero, but a more drag, and is a bit heavier,” Hawksworth said. “Knowing the track should help. I’ll just jump in and go; I believe the RSR guys have tested, so there should be a good baseline.”
Co-drivers in the sister No. 09, Bruno Junqueira and Duncan Ende, are open-wheel converts who’ve now fully integrated themselves into the multiclass nature of sports car racing.
For Hawksworth, who’s only in his fourth year total of racing cars, he expects he’ll learn a lot racing against three other classes in the TUDOR Championship.
“I think it’ll be interesting as I’ve not had that experience,” he said. “You have to factor in that you’re handling both slower and quicker traffic. We’ll take it step by step and see what we can do.”