In the last of my 2015 Autosport International Show Interviews, I spoke with Richard Hawken, who has signed with the Works Outfit that is Support Our Paras Infinity Racing and will be piloting one of the brand new Rear Wheel Drive Infinity Q50 NGTC cars alongside Derek Palmer Jnr
Richard has plenty of experience in Touring Car racing, having previously driven an ex-David Leslie Nissan Primera to the 2010 and 2011 BRSCC SuperTouring Car Trophy, as well as the 2007 Class B Euro Saloons Championship.
Notable performances in his career include wrapping up the 2010 title despite a head gasket failure, a lights-to-flag win at Brands Hatch against more powerful cars in front of his sponsors in 2011 and winning the 2012 Silverstone Classic Fujifilm Touring Car Trophy where he shared the podium with former BTCC driver Frank Wrathall.
My first question to Richard involved the differences in cars that he would undertake, having driven Front Wheel Drive Touring Cars for the past ten years…
“Well initially, the first change is that the Q50 is RWD, the racing I’ve done over the past 10 years has been FWD. Its been in properly designed Touring Cars, specifically from the SuperTouring era of the BTCC. But in the previous 10 years to that I was driving RWD cars so I have a bit of experience there to translate into making dividends towards the Infinity NGTC car for this season,” he explained.
With both the Infinity Squad and Richard entering their first respective BTCC seasons, I asked him if he had any particular targets for this season and if the team had set targets for its debut season…
“One of the first big goals this season is to raise awareness and as much money for our charity Support Our Paras and I’m asking the public to engage as much as they can to donate to the charity,” explained Hawken before continuing. “Secondly, my more personal goal is tailored to the BTCC. I’m really hopeful that we can get into the top ten quite quickly and then I want to fight for that vital half a second and then try to get towards the front of the grid. If I can come away from the 2015 season with a podium, I will be elated.”
With Pro Motorsport running the team under the “Support Our Paras Racing” banner, I asked Richard how both the teams experience of racing on the UK’s circuits and his own experience of competing on some the circuits used in the BTCC Calendar would help in testing and preparing for the 2015 season…
“The honest answer to that question is that you can never test enough. A great Nissan driver once said to me, he’d done 35,000 miles in a Nissan Primera Touring Car, which was the level that BTCC drivers and teams used to test to back in the SuperTouring days. For ourselves now, we will certainly be out there testing the car and getting as familiar as we can with it before the first round at Brands Hatch.”
With Richard having come close to becoming a BTCC Driver in 2013 with both Team Hard and Speedworks Motorsport respectively, he is elated to have acheived the goal for this season. So I asked him what his long term goals would be regarding the BTCC beyond the 2015 season.
“It’s my aim to stay in the BTCC and I have worked extremely hard to get here. To put it one way, Now I’m in the Orchard, I hope the gate stays locked behind me now and that I can continue to be in the championship for a long time to come.”
Richard Hawken is joined at the Works back Infinity Support Our Paras Racing by Derek Palmer Junior, son of Pro Motorsport Team Principle Derek Palmer. The team unveiled the livery of the Q50 NGTC Car at the 2015 Autosport International Show and will be out testing before the Official Media Day on March 24th at Donington Park.
Infinity Support Our Paras Racing joins the BTCC as the third works entry for this season, joining MG and Honda who have both confirmed work entries for 2015.
Thank you for taking the time to read my ASI 2015 Interviews over the past few weeks and I look forward to the beginning of the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car season with much anticipation.
All the best!
All the best from the Guru!!