How Jay Hanson went from obscurity to bumping Chaz Mostert
Before the opening round of the 2021 Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series, few people outside the motorsport industry had heard of Jay Hanson.
But after running at the front of the field during that Tasmanian event and racing door-to-door with Chaz Mostert, the 17-year-old emerged from the weekend as a driver to watch.
Since that memorable Symmons Plains outing, Hanson has shown further glimpses of brilliance, especially at Bathurst. But while his appearances at the pointy end of the field may have come as a surprise to some, those who competed against him in national Formula Ford and state-level Excel racing certainly respected his capabilities.
The progression to TCR has been a steep learning curve, but it is an experience he is relishing.
“TCR has been everything I have expected and more,” Hanson said.
“Coming out of lower classes like Formula Ford and Excels, it has been quite a leap for me, especially with the calibre of drivers and teams running in the category. Having the Channel 7 publicity has been really cool and overall I’m really enjoying it.”
With their front-wheel-drive configuration, TCR cars demand a unique driving style. It is something that has proven a challenge for a number of established racers, but Hanson said his relative lack of experience has been an advantage.
“A lot of the other drivers in TCR have raced Supercars, Porsches and other rear-wheel-drive cars,” he explained.
“The only experience I’ve really had is in Formula Ford and Excels, and because I’m still young, I haven’t really developed many habits from other cars. I feel this has helped me adapt to the TCR car quite quickly.”
In the opening four rounds of the season, Hanson has engaged in wheel-to-wheel combat with some of the best drivers in the business. He says some of those battles have been a surreal experience.
“I’ve had some awesome battles with some big-name drivers. When you’re racing against them one weekend and then watching them winning races in a Supercar the next weekend, you go ‘holy cow!’ But at the end of the day, they’re just normal people.”
The Symmons Plains battle with Mostert was especially memorable. After pursuing the 2014 Bathurst winner for several laps, Hanson attempted a move into the hairpin which was unsuccessful and resulted in Mostert’s Audi being turned around.
Hanson has nothing but praise for how Mostert dealt with the situation afterwards.
“Chaz is one of my heroes and someone I’ve looked up to since I was very young, he’s not someone I wanted to make enemies with in my first TCR race,” Hanson said.
“I had a really cool battle with Chaz in Tassie, I was chasing him down and I went for a move. Unfortunately, it didn’t end the way I wanted.
“As soon as the race finished, I went and apologised because I felt bad, but Chaz took it really well. He told me he had made worse mistakes and explained that it’s the best way to learn.
“At Bathurst, I had a great battle with Garth (Tander) and hopefully I can race with more of those sorts of drivers in the future.”
At the Ashley Seward Motorsport squad, Hanson is working alongside another experienced driver, Lee Holdsworth. He said the dynamic of youth and experience is driving the team forward.
“Having Lee there is great, we’ve really helped each other,” he said.
“Having a driver who has so much knowledge with data and setup has really helped my learning curve.
“Ash definitely knows his stuff as well, and has accomplished a fair bit as a team owner.”
For the remainder of the season, Hanson has his sights set on some more front-running performances.
“For the last few rounds of this year, the aim is to start fighting for more podiums,” Hanson said.
“We’ve shown some good pace, so hopefully we can carry that on and achieve some results that are rewarding for the team.”
The next round of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series will be held at Morgan Park Raceway on June 25-27.
Tickets must be pre-purchased online. CLICK HERE to secure your tickets to TCR Australia’s first-ever race at the Queensland venue.