Rally driver Alex Hawkins talks about early inspirations, fitness discipline and financial hardship as he seeks sponsorship backing to race his way to British Rally Championship glory in 2020.
Devonshire born Alex was initiated into the world of motorsport before he could walk and talk. Born into a rally-mad family; his mother was a driver, and his father a mechanic.
As a small child he watched in awe as mum raced fearlessly and a life of rally for the boy was a one way track. Alex tells me:
“Rally driving has always been in the blood. As a young boy I was dragged to events to watch my mum as there was nobody to look after me at home. I loved the cars and the atmosphere. I was excited by what mum was doing, she was my inspiration in those early days.”
As a schoolboy Alex looked up to his rally hero, 25 times World Rally Champion Colin McRae. He considers McRae to be his major influence through the school years and right up to the Scot's tragic death in 2007.
“I learnt a lot from watching Colin McRae. I’d be in lessons with school work to do but instead I’d be thinking about rallying techniques and car control. I’d sit at my desk sketching on paper how to take a corner!”
McRae’s shock passing in a helicopter cash hit Alex hard. He was grief stricken by the loss of his rally idol and the devastating news broke just a few months after he’d turned 17 and passed his driving test.
As a young rally driver starting out, McRae’s legacy revved up Alex’s hunger for recognition in the motorsport he so loved. With careful guidance and a self-disciplined approach, the youngster worked tirelessly not just on car control, but on the physical and mental fitness that is paramount to a young driver keen to make the grade.
“Taking fitness seriously is part of my responsibility as a rally driver. To take corners at speed my body needs to be stable, strong and balanced. I use a personal trainer, who understands what I need in terms of exercise and nutrition.
My training includes lots of endurance work to get my whole body conditioned, for example using the rowing machine, swimming, cycling and running.”
All-important key elements to be rally-fit include sharp coordination and reaction speed. Unfaltering concentration on the gravel is of the essence; the unexpected awaits around every next corner.
On the morning of an event, Alex’s routine sees him well fueled and psyched for the race, his sense of calm regulated with breathing exercises.
“I eat breakfast bars, bananas, and other high complex carbohydrate foods that give me sustained energy throughout the day.
To relax I sit somewhere quiet and listen to music. I have various playlists so I pick one depending on my mood, and that helps me get in the zone.”
Alex, who is also a rally and racing instructor, stamped his mark in the famous Sunseeker Rally placing overall 4th in the competition. He tells me the downside to chasing success in rallying is the ongoing expense.
An impressive record of leading in UK-based events including the Peugeot 205 and Citroen competitions puts him in a strong position amongst his rally peers, however he is yet to complete all eight events in a single Championship owing to ‘drop out’ being the option
he’s regrettably had to take thus far.
“A lot of money and effort is required to be a rally driver. I work long hours in my day job as a telecoms engineer to help finance it, and costs across each year run into the thousands.
I have to cover the cost of event entry fees, preparation, accommodation, fuel, tyres and vehicle maintenance to give a few examples. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to afford to complete a whole Championship as yet.”
With a self-assured outlook on 2020, the 29-year-old driver is set to make his name in the British Rally Championship and believes he will go all the way with sponsorship backing.
His Ford Fiesta ST Trophy is raring to go and dates in the diary for the Isle of Man, Clacton-on-Sea, Scotland and Wales keep the pressure on to get financial backing in place.
Alex’s sponsorship proposal for company directors details his mission and specific requirements, also putting forward ways their advertising budget could be placed smartly across multiple platforms in a ‘less is more’ approach.
In return for financial support, Alex offers himself as a 'brand ambassador' to the sponsor’s company. This involves advertising their business through many channels which he takes a consistent approach to throughout the whole length of the deal.
"There’s a channel on You Tube which the Championship broadcast on, along with social media, blogs, radio and television exposure.
All of these keep a sponsor’s name in the public domain throughout the Championship, which lasts several months. This is a far more cost-effective way to advertise than splashing out on an expensive media-based campaign.”
See Alex Hawkins in action at the Woodpecker Rally in 2019.
Securing sponsorship means the highly ambitious driver can go full throttle in the British Rally Championship of 2020. This golden opportunity for Alex Hawkins brings not only the chance to assert his position in the UK rally ranks, but to follow onto his ultimate challenge of spinning tyres across the channel in the European Rally Championship of 2021.
To follow Alex Hawkins on social media and get in touch directly, follow his Instagram
Photos supplied by: Black Mountain Media / Rally Sport Media