After two days of very productive testing for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, Tech 1 Racing is taking up another challenge in GT3 by competing in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe sprint races at Zandvoort this coming weekend.
Simon and Sarah Abadie’s team is betting on Jack Hawksworth and Aurélien Panis, an experienced duo who are newcomers to this discipline, to defend their colours in the Pro category, the blue-riband series in the championship.
Hawksworth is the Gold driver in the line-up and he learned his trade in Formula Renault before meeting with success in the United States where he won the Star Mazda Championship title. The British driver’s rise to the top continued with graduation to the IndyCar Series after which he gradually turned to Endurance and GT racing scoring his first victory in the United SportsCar Championship at Indianapolis in 2014.
Since 2017, Hawksworth has been racing a Lexus RC F GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. After almost a year getting to grips with the challenge he clinched four pole positions and five fastest laps in 2018 and this year he scored his first wins. He currently leads the WeatherTech Sprint Cup and is also in third place in the GTD general classification.
He will team up with Aurélien Panis, a driver that the team knows particularly well as he was part of the Tech 1 Racing attack in its last campaign in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2015.
The Frenchman began his single-seater career in the French F4 Championship and then shone in Formula Renault 2.0 followed by Formula Renault 3.5. He proved his versatility in his different campaigns in Supertourism, the Andros Trophy, TCR, WTCC and the ELMS. Like Tech 1 Racing, Panis is now continuing his career in GT after his debut in a Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the French FFSA GT Championship.
Two free practice sessions will be held on Friday. On Saturday morning the two drivers will take part in qualifying, which begins at 9:30, followed by the first heat at 14:35. The second one will start on Sunday at 14:15.
Jack Hawksworth: “I’m champing at the bit to join up with Tech 1 Racing at Zandvoort. I can’t wait to discover a new team, a new circuit and a new championship. The weekend’s looking good and I’m looking forward to meeting up with my team-mate, Aurélien, and to begin working with him and all the guys in the squad. I’ve now got quite a lot of experience in the Lexus RC F GT3 as I’ve been driving one for the last three seasons. The car’s obviously got huge potential - like Tech 1 Racing - so I’m really feeling very enthusiastic at the prospect of joining them!”
Aurélien Panis: “I’m really happy to be part of this adventure. Although it’ll be my first outing in GT3 I was able to do a few laps in the Lexus RC F GT3 at Spa-Francorchamps. It was a lovely surprise as it’s an excellent car and it’s always fantastic to be working with the whole Tech 1 Racing team again. Even if it’s difficult to set an objective in this environment that we’re all going to discover, I can’t wait to be on the spot to learn, gain experience, and do the best possible job with Jack, my team-mate, who knows the car pretty well. I hope it’ll help us to focus on the weekend and fight in the best possible conditions.”
Simon Abadie: “We’revery happy to discover the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe at Zandvoort. Right from our debut with the Lexus RC F GT3, we wanted to race in both the Endurance and Sprint categories, but we needed time to put together this programme that we were a bit late in launching. We still have a lot to learn, all the more so because of this dynamic format with very short pit stops and teams that have a lot of experience in GT. It’ll show us the level of skills we need to achieve with a professional driver squad. Jack’s experience with the Lexus will be very valuable to help us stabilise our team and judge our development, and we already know how talented, serious and hard-working Aurélien is. So our aim will be to make as few mistakes as possible during the weekend. If we do things properly we should be well placed, but above all we’re tackling this event in a very humble frame of mind.”
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