Hawksworth happy to be back in the saddle again

Any mention of motorcycles will not be tolerated by Jack Hawksworth.

“We don’t talk about that,” he said with a laugh.

Facetious silence aside, Hawksworth is serious about his journey back to full strength after a spill on a dirt bike in May left him with back and ankle injuries that kept him from racing.

He missed three races in the Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 but returned July 16 to finish third with teammate Ben Barnicoat in the GTD PRO class in the FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.

As he prepares for Sunday’s IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America, Hawksworth is mending and focused. Considering the extent of the injuries – his right ankle and T12 vertebra both required surgery – it’s a remarkable recovery.

“When you have injuries like that, it’s obviously not a quick process,” Hawksworth said. “Every day I feel a little bit better. I’ve been very fortunate to be working with some of the very best people in terms of rehabbing the injuries and getting back going again.”

The injuries kept Hawksworth out of two rounds of GTD PRO – Watkins Glen International and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the No. 14 Lexus – and also from the Detroit GTD race, which his co-driver Barnicoat won with Kyle Kirkwood in the renumbered No. 17 Lexus.

But Hawksworth returned at Lime Rock with a positive result and encouraging prognosis.

“I’m getting better every day,” Hawksworth said Tuesday. “Foot’s getting better, back’s getting better. It’s a little bit less pain and a little bit less stiffness. It’s good. In terms of training, I’m able to do a bit more every week in terms of getting back to where it was.”

Where it was held promise. Hawksworth and Barnicoat finished second at Long Beach and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in April and May, keeping the No. 14 Lexus in the early championship battle with the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R co-driven by Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell, the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 co-driven by Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas, and the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R GTD co-driven by Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor.

The podium finish at Lime Rock kept Barnicoat and the No. 14 in third place in the GTD PRO standings. The race also served as a positive first assessment of Hawksworth’s recovery.

“Lime Rock was a good test for everything,” Hawksworth said. “I felt really good in the car, to be honest. I didn’t have many issues at all. If anything, I’ve had another two or three weeks now coming into this weekend of recovering. In the car, I really didn’t have a problem. I was surprised. I felt good.”

Just three races remain in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, starting with Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race at Road America.

“I’m looking forward to this weekend,” Hawksworth said. “Hopefully maybe another month or two and I’ll be pretty close to how I was before. That’s kind of the hope is to keep chipping away every day. I’m feeling better all the time.”