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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Jones speeds to top three finish on dazzling Indianapolis 500 debut

  • Dubai-born Brit stuns seasoned observers on stellar Indy 500 bow
  • Dale Coyne Racing rookie takes fight to more experienced rivals
  • 22-year-old celebrates best result to-date at pinnacle of US racing


Ed Jones vied for victory during the course of a scene-stealing performance on his Indianapolis 500 debut last Sunday (28 May), as the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace took the fight to some of the sport’s greatest drivers en route to his maiden Verizon IndyCar Series top three finish.
 
Jones lined up 11th amongst the 33 high-calibre protagonists for his first crack at one of motorsport’s most legendary and fiercely-disputed races in its 101st year – an event so steeped in history, tradition and folklore that it has earned the sobriquet ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’.
 
Unexpectedly thrust into the role of de facto team leader at Dale Coyne Racing in the wake of team-mate Sébastien Bourdais’ pelvis and hip injuries, the reigning Indy Lights Champion wound up a confidence-boosting second-quickest at the conclusion of the eight practice sessions. Completing no fewer than 334 laps of the 2.5-mile oval behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, he reached a dizzying top speed of 233.008mph in the process.
 
An electric atmosphere enveloped the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway on race day, but following a promising start to gain some early ground, Jones picked up rear wing damage from the dramatic accident just ahead of him that removed pole-sitter Scott Dixon and Jay Howard from contention on lap 53.
 
Forced into making an unscheduled extra pit-stop for repairs when the action resumed after a red flag, the delay dropped the 22-year-old Brit to the tail of the field down in 28th place, but he dug deep and a fast and determined effort saw the #19 car climb consistently up the order and settle solidly back into the leading pack.
 
A well-timed pit-stop just before a full-course caution period in the closing stages of the 200-lap contest promoted Jones right to the sharp end, and he belied his comparative lack of experience and rookie status by duelling wheel-to-wheel with seasoned adversaries Hélio Castroneves and Takuma Sato. Indeed, the former – a three-time winner at the Brickyard – was effusive in his praise for his young rival once the chequered flag had fallen as he hailed a ‘very good’ and ‘very smart’ drive.
 
The erstwhile European F3 Open Champion was not done yet, however, as he got the better of countryman Max Chilton in the battle for third with five laps left to run. Remaining there to the end, he secured his finest IndyCar finish to-date and DCR’s best result at Indy – a welcome tonic for the team in Bourdais’ absence and a thoroughly well-deserved reward for Jones following a rough recent run.
 
His standout performance also vaulted the Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé back up to ninth in the drivers’ classification – just five points shy of the top five – ahead of the next outing on the 2017 IndyCar calendar, the Detroit Grand Prix double-header at Belle Isle Park this coming weekend (3/4 June).
 
“It was a great race for us,” Jones enthused. “It was also the longest race I’ve ever been in, with so many ups-and-downs. We had a solid start, but when Dixon had his crash, I ran over some debris and it damaged the floor and rear wing. We had to change the wing, which sent me to the back of the field and then we had to claw our way up again. It’s so easy to put a foot wrong, and there were a few times when I genuinely thought I was heading for the wall but thanks to the Dale Coyne Racing team for putting a great car underneath me all month.
 
“We were really strong in traffic and kept pushing on and making up positions. We got some luck back with the last yellow as we pitted right before it, but then I put a big hole in my front wing, which created a lot of drag. That meant I was really good in the corners catching other cars, but as soon as we got to the straight sections I couldn’t tow up to them – we just lacked that top speed for the last 40 laps and it was very hard for me to defend or attack.
 
“Over the final 20 laps or so, the racing got much more intense, with people taking a lot more risks. It was pretty crazy out there, but I really enjoyed it. It was just frustrating that we couldn’t get the win because we were really close to it and without the damage, we had the car to do so. When you have an opportunity like that, you want to grab it but congratulations to Taku and Hélio. We did everything we could, and to come away with third place as a rookie is an amazing result.”
 
“We’re excited by the job Ed’s been doing this year,” added team owner Coyne. “He really performed well at Indianapolis. He gave us our best qualifying in 11th and our best finish in third, and I think having all the yellows and the red flag was good for him because it’s the longest race he’s ever been in and that allows you time for your heart rate to come down and to think about what’s going on. The season is only a third over and whilst it kind of feels like it’s culminated here, there is plenty more still to come.”

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Jones secures fourth row start for maiden Indy 500

  • Dale Coyne Racing rookie set to line up 11th for first Indianapolis 500
  • 22-year-old outpaces three former winners of iconic American race
  • Dubai-born Brit continues to turn heads at pinnacle of US motorsport
     

Ed Jones will line up an impressive 11th on the grid for his first Indianapolis 500 this weekend (28 May), after averaging an eye-watering 230.578mph around the legendary ‘Brickyard’ oval during qualifying for ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’.
 
As the reigning Indy Lights Champion, Jones has made a strong start to his maiden Verizon IndyCar Series campaign this year with Dale Coyne Racing, tallying a brace of top ten finishes from the first five outings behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater to sit 13th in the standings arriving at Indianapolis.
 
After successfully completing the mandatory rookie orientation programme, the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace went on to lap the 2.5-mile superspeedway more than 200 times over the course of five days of practice. In evidence of his swift progress, he surpassed the 230mph mark on ‘Fast Friday’ to place an excellent ninth in the classification – ahead of some very big names indeed.
 
Saturday qualifying was delayed for five hours by heavy rain, but when the action eventually got underway, Jones belied his comparative lack of experience and unfavourable early slot in the running order to lap tenth-quickest, missing out on the ‘Fast Nine’ shoot-out by the slender margin of just 0.141s as he featured up towards the sharp end throughout.
 
The following day, the 22-year-old Brit was accordingly the final driver to take to the track in Group 1 qualifying to determine the grid positions from tenth down to 33rd, with all previous lap times erased. With only a single four-lap attempt permitted, the pressure was on but Jones rose to the challenge admirably, circulating consistently above 230mph in what was the fastest Indianapolis 500 qualifying session for more than two decades and the third-fastest in history.
 
The Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé will duly start the world’s largest single-day sporting event from the middle of the fourth row – the second quickest-rookie behind two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso and ahead of three of the seven former winners in the fray in what has been billed as the toughest field in living memory.
 
Amongst the big-hitters that Jones outpaced were Team Penske powerhouse trio Juan-Pablo Montoya, Hélio Castroneves and current IndyCar championship leader Simon Pagenaud. He similarly outqualified no fewer than six other race-winners in the fiercely-disputed open-wheel series.
 
In the wake of team-mate Sébastien Bourdais’ high-speed accident that has left the Frenchman with multiple fractures to his pelvis and hip, it was a timely tonic for the DCR crew, and erstwhile European F3 Open Champion Jones is now fired-up to prove his potential once again in the 101st edition of the iconic Indianapolis 500 – in front of an anticipated crowd of more than 250,000.
 
“Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the most famous racetrack in the world and the Indy 500 is the most famous race in the world, and it’s amazing to be here,” he enthused. “I raced here last year in Indy Lights, so I came in with a bit of prior experience around the track but it’s obviously a lot more extreme when you’re going faster and it’s a place you’ve got to treat with so much respect, because you can end up paying a big price for a small mistake.
 
“I spent the practice week getting comfortable and working on running closely in traffic. The first two days were very solid and I learned a tremendous amount, and whilst the hot and windy conditions later on perhaps hampered preparations a bit, we went into the weekend knowing we had good pace.
 
“Oval qualifying is always nerve-wracking – particularly my first one for the Indy 500 – so having a five-hour rain delay made it a million times worse! You’re going out there on a different day in different conditions, meaning you don’t know what to expect and have to just keep it flat and hope for the best. The car was right on the knife-edge, and it was a real thrill – I enjoyed every moment.
 
“I really wanted to be in the Fast Nine, but maybe we didn’t get the set-up quite right and that left us with it all to do again on Sunday. In the morning practice session, we rolled out, did four laps and said, ‘let’s park it’ because we had the perfect car, but then in the afternoon it was quite loose. I had to make several corrections, but nonetheless it was a good run and a great job by the guys and I think I got everything out of it that I could.
 
“It was a tough day on Saturday with Seb’s massive crash and all my thoughts are with him for a speedy recovery, but our team spirit is so strong and I’m proud to be representing DCR in the Indianapolis 500. Thanks to Dale and all the engineers. Hopefully we can take it further forward in the race.”

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Jones' impressive raw pace goes unrewarded in IndyCar GP

  • Rapid IndyCar rookie continues to showcase palpable potential
  • Dale Coyne Racing ace frustrated by ill-fortune at Indianapolis
  • Dubai-born Brit now revving up for the biggest race of the year
     

Ed Jones produced a scintillating turn-of-speed in last weekend’s IndyCar Grand Prix, but his chances of adding a third top ten finish to his tally in what has been an impressive Verizon IndyCar Series rookie campaign to-date were undone by misfortune in Indiana.
 
The IndyCar Grand Prix traditionally kick-starts IndyCar’s celebrated ‘Month of May’, and the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course had been a happy hunting-ground for Jones in the past.
 
The talented Dubai, UAE-born ace claimed no fewer than three pole positions there in Indy Lights and reached the top step of the rostrum en route to the drivers’ crown in the fiercely-disputed Mazda Road to Indy feeder series last year. He returned with his sights solidly set on maintaining his progression at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.
 
After struggling throughout practice – completing fewer laps than any of his rivals and uncharacteristically bringing up the rear of the timesheets amongst the 22 high-calibre contenders – Jones and Dale Coyne Racing dug deep to engineer a remarkable turnaround in qualifying.
 
Narrowly missing out on advancing to the second part of the session, the 22-year-old Brit lined up 13th on the grid for the 85-lap IndyCar Grand Prix. His challenge, however, was almost immediately compromised when – following a bright start that saw him gain some early ground – he found himself forced to take to the grass to avoid a spinning Tony Kanaan, rejoining the fray all the way down in 20th position.
 
Having grittily battled back up to 13th, a refuelling issue during Jones’ first pit visit caused a further delay and prompted an unscheduled extra stop, demoting him to a lonely 19th place. He would remain there to the chequered flag, as a rare caution-free race afforded him scant opportunity to play catch-up. The former European F3 Open Champion posted the fastest lap at one stage behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, ending up third-quickest overall in evidence of what might have been.
 
With no time to rest, Jones and DCR are already hard at work preparing for the 101st edition of the legendary Indianapolis 500 – the culmination of the ‘Month of May’ – with two days of qualifying scheduled for 20/21 May followed by ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ itself a week later on 28 May.
 
“The Indianapolis road course has been a good track for me in the past” reflected the Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé. “It’s quite a European-style circuit, which I think is one of the reasons why I feel so comfortable there. We went into the weekend believing it would probably be one of our best chances to get a good result so far this year, but in practice we had a few problems that made it really difficult to learn and progress.
 
“We made some big changes heading into qualifying and moved nearer to my team-mate’s set-up. That allowed us to take a big jump and I ended up really close to the ‘Fast 12’, missing out by less than half-a-tenth-of-a-second. It was obviously frustrating not to go through to the next round, but still massive to qualify where we did given where we had been in practice – much better than we had feared.
 
“Unfortunately, it was then a difficult race. At the start we moved up a little bit, but going into Turn Seven, Kanaan spun in front of me and I had to avoid him – I thought he was going to take me out properly! I had to go onto the grass, and that dropped me to the rear of the field.
 
“After that, we were coming through and our pace was pretty good, but then at the first pit-stop we didn't get all the fuel into the car, costing us a lot of time and messing up the whole race as it sent us to the back again. That was a real shame, as we set the third-best lap so we were clearly quick, and I think we would have probably finished inside the top ten if we’d had a clean run.”

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