Jones' Canadian charge undone by late misfortune

  • Standout IndyCar rookie showcases street fighting pedigree in Toronto
  • Dubai-born Brit produces feisty performance to challenge front-runners
  • Late retirement dashes Dale Coyne Racing ace’s hopes of strong finish
Ed Jones chanced his arm in last weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto (14-16 July) by adopting an audacious strategy that vaulted him temporarily to the front of the field – but ultimately, the Verizon IndyCar Series rookie saw his challenge scuppered by late-race mechanical failure.
 
Jones headed to the cosmopolitan Canadian city with prior experience of Exhibition Place’s 11-turn, 1.786-mile street circuit from two seasons of Indy Lights competition, and 66 practice laps behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater allowed him to reacquaint himself with its demanding and changeable nature.
 
The talented young Dubai, UAE-born ace missed out on advancing to part two of the knockout qualifying session by scarcely a tenth-of-a-second, restricting him to a disappointed 15th on the starting grid amongst the 21 high-calibre protagonists at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition, in what has been billed as the most fiercely-disputed IndyCar campaign in living memory.
 
Spurred on by the presence in the Dale Coyne Racing pit garage of early-season team-mate Sébastien Bourdais – who is continuing to convalesce from the hip and pelvis fractures he sustained in a qualifying accident for May’s Indianapolis 500 – Jones immediately set about gaining ground in the race, and following an early full course caution period, he went on the attack.
 
After despatching Max Chilton, JR Hildebrand and Marco Andretti in quick succession, the reigning Indy Lights title-holder scythed his way boldly into the top ten by lap 20. He subsequently pulled off a superb pass on 20-year IndyCar veteran Tony Kanaan as he infiltrated the fight for fifth, and he had risen as high as seventh when the yellow flags appeared again for a car in the barriers just before one-third distance.
 
With threatening skies and precipitation in the air, DCR elected to roll the dice by leaving Jones out on-track as the majority of his rivals dived for the pit-lane for a fresh set of tyres. That elevated the 22-year-old Brit to second behind eventual winner Josef Newgarden, but with the anticipated rain failing to materialise, he found himself increasingly struggling for speed on his worn rubber and had to really get his elbows out to defend his position as his pursuers piled on the pressure.
 
After valiantly waging a losing battle, Jones was forced to pit on lap 33 as his Firestone reds cried enough, relegating him to the rear of the order. Despite having to additionally contend with a fractured left foot from a previous race, the Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé was on the comeback trail and embroiled in a multi-car scrap just outside the top ten when he rolled to a halt with an oil pressure problem with just nine laps left to run.
 
His misfortune has dropped Jones to 12th in the drivers’ standings ahead of the next outing on the 2017 IndyCar schedule at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (28-30 July), where he is determined to convert his palpable pace and potential into a solid haul of points.
 
“Toronto is one of my favourite races on the calendar,” reflected the former European F3 Open Champion. “It’s a difficult track and very bumpy, and you frequently find yourself sliding around in the corners. It’s also very technical and tight in some sections, while the continually evolving grip levels and surface changes mean it is tricky to strike the optimum set-up.
 
“Getting up-to-speed went reasonably well in practice, although we struggled with the balance of the car in the first session and in the second session it got a bit worse. We tried to fix it, but we didn’t make as much progress as we would have liked. Toronto also requires much more braking than Iowa, but whilst my foot hurt a lot, I have a high pain tolerance and was able to brake without any dramas.
 
“We made some changes for qualifying, but it was a tough session – the jump with the alternate Firestone red tyres was very big. I thought I drove a pretty good lap, but I missed out on the Fast 12 by just a little bit. It was close, as usual, but frustrating at the same time.
 
“In the race, we picked up quite a few spots passing cars during the first stint and I felt like we had the pace to be in the top six, but we got unlucky with the caution and that sent us to the back. We gambled on rain coming, but it didn’t pay off. At the end of the day, we had an oil line issue so it wouldn’t have worked out anyway, but it was good to see that we had a lot of potential and we’ll try to carry that forward to Mid-Ohio.”
 
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Jones thwarted by oversteer on tough day in Iowa

  • Dale Coyne Racing rookie endures torrid day at the office
  • Dubai-born Brit unrewarded for excellent qualifying form
  • WH Sports Group protégé fired-up for Canadian fightback

Ed Jones grappled with an ill-handling car at Iowa Speedway last weekend (8/9 July), as the talented young Dubai, UAE-born ace struggled for speed in the 11th round of the fiercely-disputed Verizon IndyCar Series – but he is already planning to bounce straight back in Toronto.
 
Jones had competed around the bumpy, 0.894-mile oval twice in Indy Lights – finishing on the podium both times – but he knew that tackling it in a 720bhp IndyCar would be an altogether more challenging proposition. Underscoring his credentials, however – and following a productive pre-event test – the Dale Coyne Racing rookie returned to the track and lapped 13th-quickest amongst the 21 high-calibre protagonists during practice, despite driving with a fractured left foot.
 
He subsequently belied his early running slot – in a scenario in which track conditions generally improve as more rubber is laid down – to top the timesheets for a while in qualifying, and his impressive two-lap average of 182.290mph would ultimately prove good enough to snare a season-best eighth on the starting grid behind the wheel of his Dallara-Honda single-seater.
 
Unfortunately, a set-up change ahead of Sunday’s 300-lap Iowa Corn 300 backfired, leaving the reigning Indy Lights Champion waging a losing battle from the outset and despite his earnest efforts, he was powerless to prevent a slide down the order.
 
After dropping to the rear of the lead pack in 15th, Jones settled into a rhythm and enjoyed entertaining scraps with the likes of Josef Newgarden, Carlos Munoz and championship leader Scott Dixon. He had hauled himself back up to 12th when an ill-timed pit-stop just before the second caution period of the race cost him two laps and relegated him to the very tail of the field. Following a short stoppage prompted by a rain shower, the 22-year-old Brit gritted his teeth to take the chequered flag a frustrated 18th.
 
Wasting no time at all in dwelling on his misfortune, Jones is already en route to Toronto for the next outing at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition this coming weekend (15/16 July), with the former European F3 Open Champion eager indeed to unleash his street fighting skills north of the border in Canada.
 
“It was good to have the chance to test at Iowa prior to the race weekend, but still we expected it to be difficult for the Honda teams, like it was in Phoenix,” he reflected. “That said, I was looking forward to it and having established a strong record on ovals – especially at Iowa in Indy Lights – the aim was to keep that form going.
 
"Qualifying went well, even though the track changed significantly from morning practice, which made it very tricky to drive. I think a lot of people struggled, but the DCR engineers did a good job deciding what to do with the car and we ended up eighth. Being such a short lap, you have to rehearse it in your mind before you go out there so you know exactly what to do, because it all happens so quickly. It's a lot of fun, and when you climb out at the end, you’re shaking a bit because it’s pretty extreme.
 
“We made some changes overnight with the race distance in mind and we were confident of coming away with another good result, but unfortunately, we went the wrong way on the set-up and struggled with oversteer throughout, which made the car a handful to drive.
 
“We tried to dial the oversteer out by reducing the front wing angle in the pit-stops, but the problem was more mechanical than aerodynamic so there wasn’t a great deal we could do. To then compound matters, we found ourselves caught out by the yellows just after we had pitted for the second time. It was a tough race all-told, but on the positive side, we brought the car home in one piece and we get to go again straightaway in Toronto.”
 
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Jones returns to championship top ten with Road America charge

  • IndyCar rookie battles hard for seventh-place finish in Wisconsin
  • Dale Coyne Racing ace pays tribute to team co-founder Payton
  • Dubai-born Brit regains top ten ranking at US open-wheel pinnacle


Ed Jones raced hard to secure his fifth top ten finish of an impressive rookie campaign in the fiercely-disputed Verizon IndyCar Series last weekend (23-25 June), with seventh place at Road America vaulting the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace back up the overall championship standings.
 
Although he had not previously competed around the picturesque four-mile, 14-turn Elkhart Lake road course in IndyCar – unlike 18 of his 21 high-calibre rivals – Jones did race there last year en route to lifting the laurels in Indy Lights, with pole position underscoring his pace and potential. The 22-year-old Brit had also tested there the previous week, and he duly came out-of-the-blocks in fine form in practice, placing seventh in the combined classification as he inched progressively nearer to the outright benchmark.
 
Despite struggling with tyre-warming issues in qualifying, Jones nonetheless advanced to the ‘Fast 12’ for the second time this season behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dale Coyne Racing Honda single-seater, equalling his best starting position to-date in 11th.
 
In windy conditions the following day, the former European F3 Open Champion began the 55-lap KOHLER Grand Prix well as he settled solidly into the top ten. He would maintain that positive momentum throughout – spending much of the race running in close company with 2012 IndyCar Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay – and after taking the final safety car re-start in ninth, he gained two more places before the chequered flag to cross the finish line seventh.
 
The result returned Jones to the top ten in the points table at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition. Buoyed by his strong performance in Wisconsin, he will travel next to Iowa Speedway for a test ahead of the 11th outing on the 2017 IndyCar schedule – the Iowa Corn 300 – on 9 July.
 
“Road America is one of my favourite tracks in the United States,” reflected the Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé, who wore a specially customised helmet for the weekend in tribute to late Chicago Bears NFL star and Dale Coyne Racing co-founder Walter ‘Sweetness’ Payton.
 
“It was good to go back to a road course, and we felt well-prepared after the positive test day there. The team was also competitive at Road America last season, so we had a decent starting point and we were confident we had a good package underneath us and that the circuit should suit us.
 
“Practice went pretty well and we showed encouraging speed all day. The track changed quite a bit in the afternoon session, but we were still fast. The field was really close so we knew qualifying would be tough, but by the same token, there were several areas in which we could improve so I was optimistic of being able to push for the top five.
 
“Unfortunately, the cooler temperatures on Saturday affected a few things, and I struggled to bring the tyres in, which meant it took too long to get up to pace. It was still good to make it into the second round of qualifying, but it left us with some work to do ahead of the race.
 
“The car was loose but fast for qualifying, and it was really loose again on Sunday – I was hanging on throughout the race! Most people went for a similar strategy, but the DCR boys did a great job and some good pit-stops helped us to progress through the field. Everyone was aggressive and it was hard racing, but we came out with a seventh-place finish and moved up a little bit in the points, so we’ll definitely take that.”

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Jones scythes through field in Texas before misfortune strikes

  • Dubai-born Brit stars again as he showcases oval racing prowess
  • Dale Coyne Racing rookie an innocent victim in nine-car collision
  • WH Sports Group protégé vows to ‘come back stronger’ next time


Fresh off the back of an excellent top three finish in the iconic Indianapolis 500, Ed Jones proved his oval racing prowess once again at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend, until a rival’s mistake removed him spectacularly from contention as he was running competitively inside the lead pack.
 
The reigning Indy Lights Champion was one of only two drivers in the fiercely-contested Verizon IndyCar Series never to have driven the 1.5-mile superspeedway prior to the weekend, and with just one 75-minute practice session to get to grips with the notoriously tricky circuit before qualifying, Jones knew he would need to learn fast.
 
After putting 51 laps under his belt, the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace was the second of the 22-strong field to qualify, with Dale Coyne Racing adopting a conservative approach by running a high downforce level. A two-lap average speed of 217.315mph – dipping underneath the existing lap record in the process – secured Jones 19th on the starting grid as he provided the team with valuable feedback.
 
The IndyCar rookie subsequently leapt up the order in the final practice session – placing an impressive seventh on the timesheets – leaving him in confident mood going into the 248-lap race under the Texan floodlights, the halfway point of the 2017 campaign.
 
Belying his lack of experience to climb into the top ten early on – featuring as high as sixth at one stage behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater – Jones was firmly in the fight for the podium positions when disaster struck shortly after a full-course yellow.
 
Four laps on from the re-start, a coming-together between Tony Kanaan and James Hinchcliffe just ahead sent pursuing cars scattering in all directions. As he tried to avoid the incident, the 22-year-old Brit backed off slightly but found himself collected from behind, putting him out on the spot – quite simply a case of wrong place, wrong time.
 
Whilst thankfully uninjured, Jones was understandably disappointed at having been denied the opportunity to vie for another top three finish at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition when he clearly had the pace to challenge. The former European F3 Open Champion, however, has already turned his attentions towards the next outing on the calendar – the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America on 25 June.
 
“Although I’d watched a lot of the previous races, it was my first time actually competing at Texas Motor Speedway,” he explained. “I was excited to be returning to an oval after our performance at Indy, even if I was well aware that it wouldn’t be an easy weekend and that it would take a little bit of time to get used to initially. What’s more, as the only team that hadn’t been able to test there in April, we went into it with a lot of unknowns – and with some extra work to do to catch up to the others.
 
“I immediately loved the circuit and if anything, it was the most comfortable I’d ever felt on an oval from the get-go. I focussed my efforts on building up confidence quickly and adapting to the required driving style, but the limited track time counted against us and in qualifying we ran with too much downforce.
 
“Things were a lot better in the race, and we were picking off cars and looking strong when the guys ahead tried to run three-wide just before two-thirds distance. I think Tony [Kanaan] didn’t leave them enough room, which caused them to crash. I backed off and hit the brakes, but then I got collected from behind and there was nothing I could do – it sent me into the wall and game over.
 
“That was super frustrating because we had an extremely fast car, had come from 19th and I think we had a chance to win – that’s what hurts most. I feel bad for Dale [Coyne – Team Owner]. He’s put so much work into this team and we’ve been so quick this year, but there have been a lot of incidents – even if this was the first major one on my side of the garage. Still, we keep coming back – and we’re coming back stronger every time.”

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Weekend of two halves for Jones in Detroit

  • Star IndyCar rookie charges through the field for another top ten finish
  • Dale Coyne Racing ace demonstrates street fighting skills in Detroit
  • Dubai-born Brit now preparing for oval return under Texas floodlights


Ed Jones experienced both the highs and lows of Verizon IndyCar Series competition last weekend (3/4 June), as the talented young Dubai, UAE-born ace charged through the field to tally his fourth top ten finish from eight starts in the opening half of the ‘Dual in Detroit’, only to then register the first DNF of his rookie campaign the following day.
 
The lone double-header on the 2017 IndyCar schedule, the Detroit Grand Prix is held around the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park – a bumpy temporary street course widely regarded as one of the most physical and demanding venues on the calendar.
 
To add to the challenge, 16 of his 21 high-calibre rivals had previously led laps at the track – six of them, indeed, had reached the top step of the podium there – while Jones had never previously set eyes upon the Michigan-based circuit.
 
That disadvantage initially showed as the reigning Indy Lights Champion struggled throughout practice, languishing towards the wrong end of the order behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.
 
The same theme continued in qualifying on Saturday as he could manage no better than 21st on the grid, but in front of an estimated 100,000 audience in the race, Jones dug deep and exploited an excellent strategy from Dale Coyne Racing to make up an eye-catching 12 positions, with only one car failing to reach the chequered flag.
 
The key to his progression was pitting just twice when the majority of the field opted to make three stops, and by dint of artfully staving off some late-race pressure, the 22-year-old Brit crossed the finish line ninth, well ahead of new team-mate Esteban Gutiérrez – a man with three seasons in Formula 1 on his impressive CV.
 
From 17th on the grid in race two the next day – following a significantly truncated qualifying session – Jones again went on the attack, climbing as high as eighth before his second pit-stop as he indulged in battles with defending IndyCar title-holder Simon Pagenaud and multiple Indianapolis 500 winner Hélio Castroneves.
 
Unfortunately, contact with JR Hildebrand at the midway stage prompted an unscheduled extra pit visit for a new front wing, dropping the former European F3 Open Champion to the very back of the pack, a lap down. Things then went from bad to worse with just over ten laps to go when he overshot Turn Seven and stalled his engine in the run-off-area. With the Holmatro Safety Team unable to get the #19 entry going again, Jones’ difficult day came to a premature conclusion.
 
With little time to rest, the Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé will return to the track this coming weekend (9/10 June) under the spotlights of Texas Motor Speedway, fully intent on moving up from his current 11th spot in the drivers’ classification, a single point shy of the top ten.
 
“Having performed well at the first couple of street courses this year, we travelled to Detroit aiming to continue that trend and score some important points,” he mused. “That said, I was fully anticipating a tough weekend physically, especially considering I hadn’t had a lot of time to train over the last few weeks.
 
“Friday was a really tough day. Belle Isle was the first circuit this year where I didn’t have any prior experience, and learning it was more difficult than those I’ve been on in the past. You really have to attack it with confidence and if I’m being honest, after a few weeks of oval driving, I didn’t do a good enough job to prepare to get back to a street course and didn’t drive particularly well, which was reflected in Saturday’s qualifying result.
 
“I made big steps each time I took to the track, though, and as I gained more experience and felt more comfortable, I was able to attack more. We picked the right strategy in Saturday’s race and the car was really strong, allowing me to do some overtaking and maintain consistent lap times throughout the stints, so that was a confidence-inspiring result.
 
“Sunday, unfortunately, was less so. We tried a different strategy but it didn’t quite work out, and then obviously the contact sent us to the back, which is what really ruined our race. It was frustrating to pick up our first non-finish of the season, but those will happen in my rookie campaign at some point and we’re already working hard to get ready for Texas.”

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