Cullingworth’s Jack Hawksworth has kick-started his bid to make it back-to-back championship triumphs across the other side of the pond in 2013.

Hawksworth clinched the fiercely-contested Star Mazda Champ-ionship crown as a US racing rookie last year and has signed to compete for multiple title-winning operation Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) in the Firestone Indy Lights Championship – just one notch down the ladder from his ultimate IZOD IndyCar Series goal.

And the McLaren Autosport Award finalist got to grips with his new ‘office’ during the first official pre-season testing outing around Florida’s 2.21-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway road course.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to spend some more time working with the team and to start preparing in the best way possible for the St Petersburg curtain-raiser next month,” said Hawksworth.

“It was a great integration and relationship-building exercise, since I got to see more of how SPM works and by the same token, they got a better idea of how I work.

“We experimented with some different changes and tweaks to the set-up in order to try and understand the characteristics of the Lights car more and figure out the best way to extract performance from it.

“Compared to last year, it has quite a lot more horsepower than the Mazda but is also quite a bit heavier; that means it requires a little more patience, but you still need to maintain the same level of commitment.”

Meanwhile, Hawksworth has also received a timely shot-in-the-arm from back home, as Bingley-based business and education internet solutions firm Exa Networks has thrown its backing behind his quest for glory.

The company’s head of projects and business solutions, Mark Elders, said: “I first observed Jack’s passion for racing in karts and his ultimate ambition to become a professional racing driver was a clear indication of his determination from the start.”