Jessica Hawkins will make a return to British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) action at the next round of action at Snetterton in June as Andy Neate takes a short sabbatical from his drive with Racing with Wera & Photon Group.
Neate will step away due to personal reasons after his major incident involving his Ford Focus ST, Jade Edwards (BTC Racing) and Glynn Geddie (Team HARD. Racing) which caused controversy due to his role in proceedings but it will not be a permanent step away as he has vowed to come back stronger at Brands Hatch in June.
“Following on from what can only be described as a bitterly disappointing season opener at Thruxton, and more pertinently the aftermath that has followed; I have personally taken the decision to take a short sabbatical from the BTCC at Snetterton. However, in avoidance of any doubt, I will be returning behind the wheel of the Motorbase Ford Focus at Brands in June. I will take this time to regroup and remind myself of my confidence and the extremely competitive pre-season testing we have demonstrated; I’m really looking forward to Brands Hatch,” he said on the decision.
“I could not personally think of anyone more qualified, talented nor deserving of a chance than Jess Hawkins. I’ve always been a huge fan of Jess; it gave me so much joy to call her up and ask her to take my seat for Snetterton. Jess is a fantastic British talent and I know she has full-time BTCC aspirations too. I hope this opportunity I can give her will be the platform for her to secure a spot on the grid in the not-so-distant future.”
While for Hawkins, who has also competed in the W Series, it is a return after becoming one of two female drivers to take a guest drive with Power Maxed Racing last season with aspirations of joining Jade Edwards on the grid likely in the forefront of her mind.
“Having known Andy and his family for a good few years, I received a call from him last week asking if I was available on the weekend of the next round of the BTCC. I did not expect his response to be ‘I would quite like to sit Snetterton out, and I’d really like to put you in the car,” she said.
“Obviously, he didn’t need to ask twice! Shocked and speechless at the time, I am humbled to be on the receiving end of Andy’s generosity – I’ll do my best to make the Neates and the team at Motorbase proud. I’m extremely excited to be making a return to the BTCC at Snetterton after my debut there in 2020.”