Sitting in pole position for a record 10th time this season, Jack Hawksworth was focused on one thing: Winning at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
He did just that, earning his eighth victory of the Star Mazda season and securing the 2012 title and Road to Indy scholarship for a 2013 Indy Lights bid.
It was a good day.
The victory didn’t come easy, however, as Gabby Chaves challenged Hawksworth for the point throughout the 21-lap event. Hawksworth led every lap around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile track but faced a serious test on the last lap of the race in the famous corkscrew corner.
“Gabby Chaves was right behind me the whole race and I couldn’t shake him,” Hawksworth explained post-race, “but he couldn’t get by either, so I was surprised when he suddenly appeared alongside me in the corkscrew and there wasn’t room for both of us. I knew I either had to let him by and win the race or go off in the dirt and keep my foot in it like Alex Zanardi did years ago. At that point I was determined to win, and so was he, so we were both off in the dirt, but we managed to keep the cars pointed straight and I stayed in the lead. It was a heart-stopping moment, but we got through it and this is just a tremendous victory for the Pelfrey team.”
Ultimately, Chaves would finish second with Connor De Phillippi rounding out the podium. Diego Ferreira was fourth and Petri Suvanto completed the top five. Sage Karam, who found victory lane at both Trois-Rivieres and Baltimore, started the race off-pole but fell off the pace with two-consecutive offs in Turn 6. Despite running on scrubbed tires, Karam rebounded to finish seventh, two seconds behind Gustavo Menezes.
On Sunday, in Round 16, Chaves didn’t have to make a pass on Hawksworth. After starting from pole position based on setting the fastest lap in Round 15, the JDC MotorSports driver put down flawless laps building a sizeable lead en route to his first-career Star Mazda victory. Chaves has finished third six times and runner-up twice this season. A win was due.
The 19-year-old set the fastest lap of the race (1:23.158) and won by an astonishing 15.202-seconds when the checkered flag waved. Hawksworth was second with De Phillippi securing his ninth podium of the season in third. Ferreira finished fourth with Suvanto completing the top-five. Karam, who was again fighting for position at the front of the pack, suffered a broken half-shaft ending his day.
Solid drives were made by Camilo Schmidt and Lloyd Read who finished sixth and seventh, respectively. Menezes, Juan Piedrahita, and Bruno Palli rounded out the top ten.
The Star Mazda Championship resumes action on Oct. 17-20 for its season finale at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. The Series will take part in the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Oct. 10-11.