Jones refuses to let ill-fortune deflate him as punctures scupper IMS charge

  • Chip Ganassi Racing ace out-of-luck in IndyCar Grand Prix
  • Series sophomore vies for top ten finish around IMS road course
  • Dubai-born Brit revving up for ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’


Not for the first time this year, Ed Jones saw a top ten finish slip through his grasp through no fault of his own in the IndyCar Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last weekend, but the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace is eager to quickly bounce back in the biggest race of the season later this month at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.
 
Sporting a refreshed livery on his Chip Ganassi Racing No.10 NTT Data entry, Jones travelled to the 2.439-mile, 14-turn permanent road course in bullish mood, having previously sped to a pair of pole positions and race victory there en route to the fiercely-disputed 2016 Indy Lights crown.
 
Ninth place in the first free practice session amongst the 24 high-calibre protagonists marked a promising start, although a lack of grip in the significantly higher temperatures of FP2 caused the reigning IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ to slip to 14th. Qualifying would follow a similar theme, as Jones wound up just 15th behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater – albeit three spots ahead of ultra-experienced, four-time title-winning team-mate Scott Dixon, the most successful driver on the 2018 grid.
 
In the race, the 23-year-old Brit avoided a variety of opening lap incidents to immediately gain five spots, and once the action resumed following an early full-course caution, he remained on the fringes of the top ten right the way to his first pit-stop, as the Ganassi crew rolled the dice with a different tyre strategy to most of their rivals.
 
Despite grappling with understeer, Jones continued to feature firmly inside the top half of the field until he picked up a brace of left-side punctures with barely 20 laps remaining after running over debris from another car, prompting an unscheduled late pit visit that dropped him a lap off the pace and to the tail of the pack. From there, he went on to take the chequered flag a frustrated and entirely unrepresentative 22nd.
 
The former European F3 Open Champion has little time to dwell, however, with official practice for the 102nd edition of the iconic Indianapolis 500 next up this Tuesday, followed by qualifying to determine the 33-car starting order for ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ on 19/20 May. The race itself will be held a week later, on 27 May.
 
“Another weekend of what could have been,” rued Jones, who is being coached by multiple IndyCar Champion and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti. “It’s so frustrating to have races ruined by things outside of our control. It was quite a bit warmer than when we had last been to the circuit for testing earlier in the year, which made conditions tough and we struggled to get the balance of the car right in practice and qualifying.
 
“We worked hard overnight, though, and I got a good start in the race to move up several positions. I think we had good pace at the beginning but in the later stages, we must have just run over something and the tyres went down – the car behind us had the same problem.
 
“It obviously wasn’t the outcome we wanted, and we’ve had a difficult run over the past couple of weeks but there is a lot of potential and I’m excited for what is to come. The whole team at Chip Ganassi Racing has done a great job with pit-stops and strategy so far this season, and we are on the right track and hope to start scoring big results soon.
 
“Now, all of our attentions are turned to the main event of the year – the Indianapolis 500. It’s a race that holds very happy memories for me from last season, and I’ll go back there with my sights resolutely set on fighting at the front again.”

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Jones turns attentions to IndyCar's 'Month of May' following Barber frustration

  • Dubai-born Brit denied top ten finish in Alabama by mechanical woes
  • IndyCar sophomore continues to prove pace in fiercely-disputed series
  • Ganassi ace confident he has ‘the tools to win’ at US racing pinnacle


Ed Jones looked set to record a third top ten finish from four starts in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park yesterday (23 April), until mechanical issues intervened and left the talented young Dubai, UAE-born ace to turn his attentions towards the celebrated ‘Month of May’ and the motorsport mecca that is Indianapolis.
 
Jones travelled to the picturesque 2.3-mile, 17-turn Alabama road course – a fast, flowing, undulating rollercoaster ride of a circuit – off the back of a superb maiden podium at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition a week earlier around the Streets of Long Beach in California.
 
The 2016 Indy Lights Champion and 2017 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ immediately hit the ground running in the first free practice session behind the wheel of Chip Ganassi Racing’s No.10 NTT Data entry, overcoming understeer and a general lack of grip in windy conditions to lap fifth-quickest amongst the 23 high-calibre contenders. That placed him less than five hundredths-of-a-second adrift of four-time title-winning team-mate Scott Dixon – the most successful competitor in the current field and a man who had finished on the rostrum in seven of his eight previous starts at Barber.
 
Whilst FP2 and FP3 would prove to be more of a challenge, Jones subsequently advanced to round two of the knockout qualifying session for the first time this season, lining up 12th on the grid for the next day’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
 
“After such a great result at Long Beach, I was really excited to get back into the NTT Data car,” acknowledged the 23-year-old Brit. “I think I now have a better understanding of what I need to do from the start to the finish of a race weekend in terms of getting the car right, although it was a difficult end to the opening day for us at Barber – after going well in the morning, we struggled in the afternoon, possibly due to the heat.
 
“We talked to Scott [Dixon] and looked at the data and what we had learned from the car overnight, and I remained optimistic because we clearly had a good base set-up and just needed to do a little more fine-tuning. I then had a minor ‘off’ in FP3, after which we put on new tyres, but we never got a chance to show our speed as we kept hitting traffic.
 
“In qualifying, we were at a bit of a disadvantage as we had to run two sets of red-sidewall tyres, while the second group had a red flag, which enabled them to save a set. Tyres make all the difference at Barber, and we did the best we could with what we had.”
 
Following two completely dry days, Sunday dawned wet – very wet. With spray a real issue in the race and drivers tip-toeing their way around the treacherous track surface, Jones settled into a multi-car battle led by 2016 IndyCar Champion Simon Pagenaud, making his way up into the top ten by lap 14, one spot behind Dixon. The red flags then flew five laps later due to aquaplaning caused by rivers of standing water on the straights, and despite organisers’ best efforts, with the rain intensifying, the decision was ultimately taken to postpone the remainder of the race until Monday.
 
In far friendlier conditions 24 hours later, the former European F3 Open Champion again ensconced himself firmly inside the top ten from the outset. Running as high as sixth on a two-stop strategy, for a while, he lapped at the same pace as the leader – and eventual race-winner – in evidence of his potential.

Unfortunately, lap 66 saw Jones peel back into the pits due to mechanical problems with his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, consigning him to an early bath and forcing him to switch his focus to the famous ‘Month of May – comprising the IndyCar Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on 12 May and the iconic Indianapolis 500 a fortnight later.
 
“I tried to attack in the early stages of the race, but it was very difficult,” reflected the series sophomore, who is being coached this year by multiple IndyCar Champion and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti. “I just couldn’t see a thing, especially at the re-starts. It was probably the worst visibility I’ve ever known in a racing situation – I was going into corners blind and having to trust my feeling to judge when to brake. Maybe I could have been more aggressive or kept my foot down, but I didn’t think it was worth the risk in such tough conditions.
 
“We were making progress the next day, but we had mechanical issues and had to pit way before it was over. It was really unfortunate for our race to end that way, but on the other hand, the No.10 NTT Data crew did an amazing job once again. Our pit-stops and strategy were great, and we were on-course for another very strong finish. 
 
“We’re heading in the right direction as a team and continuing to improve and try different tactics to get results. I understand these things take time and sometimes I get frustrated, but I know we have the tools to win and that’s the goal each weekend. Now we get ready for the biggest month of our season – IndyCar’s ‘Month of May’.”

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Street fighter Jones is California Dreamin' with Long Beach podium charge

  • Dubai-born Brit threads the needle for top three finish in America’s ‘Golden State’
  • Ganassi ace tames Streets of Long Beach with impressive error-free drive
  • IndyCar sophomore hails ‘huge potential’ as he aims to maintain momentum


Ed Jones produced an intelligent and mature performance to fight his way through from 13th on the grid to third at the chequered flag in yesterday’s Grand Prix of Long Beach (15 April), in so doing securing his second top three finish at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.
 
Jones headed to the famous 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street course in Southern California boasting a strong previous record there – having won in Indy Lights and finished sixth last year in only his second Verizon IndyCar Series start – and feeling fired-up to bounce back from an uncharacteristic error that had cost him second place at ISM Raceway in Phoenix a week earlier.
 
His weekend did not get off to the ideal start as the talented Dubai, UAE-born ace struggled to strike the optimum set-up during free practice, languishing some way down the timing screens. A stellar effort by his Chip Ganassi Racing crew, however, helped him to leap up the order into the top ten the following day in a truncated final practice session, winding up less than four hundredths-of-a-second adrift of team-mate Scott Dixon – the 2015 Long Beach race-winner and the most successful driver in the high-calibre, 24-strong field with four IndyCar crowns to his name.
 
A small mistake in qualifying restricted Jones to a frustrated 13th on the grid for the 85-lap race, but in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd, he wasted little time in gaining ground behind the wheel of CGR’s 720bhp, No.10 Dallara-Honda single-seater. After navigating safely past a Turn One clash, the 23-year-old Brit made his way swiftly into the top ten before rolling the dice and going ‘off-strategy’ with an early first pit-stop on lap 13.
 
Dropping to 19th place, Jones had risen to seventh by lap 38 and was chasing down Tony Kanaan – IndyCar’s most experienced active driver – when he peeled into the pits for a second time, rejoining in 12th. Rapidly resuming his charge, he subsequently took advantage of another full-course caution at mid-distance to pick his way through to eighth.
 
With his tyres fading, the 2017 ‘Rookie of the Year’ made his final pit visit to switch to the softer-compound red-sidewall rubber with 28 laps remaining. The move would prove to be a strategic masterstroke, as a third safety car intervention not long after played into the hands of those who did not need to stop again.
 
Elevated to fourth at the re-start, Jones advanced to third when Dixon was handed a drive-through penalty for a pit-lane indiscretion, and one last caution period prompted by an accident back in the pack set the scene for a nine-lap dash for glory.
 
Vying for a podium finish for the second race in a row, the 2016 Indy Lights title-holder soaked up tremendous pressure and – despite running on increasingly worn tyres – demonstrated his street fighting skills as he got his elbows out to defend his position, with Zach Veach and Graham Rahal looming large in his mirrors.
 
Not putting so much as a wheel out-of-place and grittily holding his nerve right to the end of what was a physically gruelling and mentally draining two-hour encounter, his reward was third place at the flag – behind only former Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi and 2014 IndyCar Champion Will Power.
 
In just his third start for Ganassi, the result marked the team’s first rostrum of the season and matched Jones’ career-best from 20 IndyCar outings to-date – not to mention vaulting him from 13th up to ninth in the fiercely-disputed series’ points table. With only the winner ascending the podium at the Indianapolis 500 – the scene of his previous top three finish last May – the 2013 European F3 Open Champion was delighted to finally get the chance to spray some champagne.
 
“Long Beach has traditionally been a good circuit for me,” acknowledged Jones, who is being coached this year by multiple IndyCar Champion and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti. “It’s an iconic event with a great atmosphere and great fans who give us some fantastic support, so it’s always exciting to go back.
 
“It obviously wasn’t the start to the weekend we wanted in practice with the NTT Data car. After going one direction in the morning, we took another direction towards what Scott [Dixon] was doing in the afternoon, which left us with some work to do overnight.
 
“We didn’t have a brilliant qualifying, either – I think my second lap was going to be my quickest, but I made a mistake and missed out on progressing to the next phase of the session by less than a tenth-of-a-second. That was clearly frustrating, but I remained confident we had a good car for Sunday’s race.
 
“From where we were on the grid, we knew we would need to try something a bit different tactically and hope for a lucky break with the yellows – and that’s exactly what happened, although it was certainly tough out there because we struggled on cold tyres. Once we got heat into them, it was better and all credit to the Ganassi guys – my crew did an amazing job in the pits and our bold strategy really paid off.
 
“I let the boys down in Phoenix, so it was fantastic to be able to make it up to them with a podium finish – hopefully the first of many. I'm really pleased with the progress we're making together as a team, and this gives us all a lot of confidence moving forward. We have a huge amount of potential with our programme, so now we need to keep building upon this positive momentum.”
 
Jones and Ganassi’s next race will be the fourth round on the 2018 IndyCar schedule – the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park this coming weekend (20-22 April).

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Jones vies for victory in Arizona before late-race heartbreak

  • IndyCar sophomore agonisingly close to maiden rostrum under Phoenix floodlights
  • Ganassi ace proves pace and potential at pinnacle of US open-wheel competition
  • Dubai-born Brit more than holds his own against fiercely-disputed series’ big-hitters

Ed Jones reaffirmed his oval racing prowess as he featured up at the sharp end throughout last weekend’s Phoenix Grand Prix, looking set to secure a superb second-place finish at the beginning of his sophomore Verizon IndyCar Series campaign until late contact stopped his stellar podium charge abruptly in its tracks.
 
Having finished an outstanding third on his maiden appearance in the iconic Indianapolis 500 last May and second at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway in Indy Lights, Jones is fast forging an excellent reputation for himself on ovals, and he returned to the historic 1.022-mile Arizona track buoyed by an encouraging debut for IndyCar powerhouse Chip Ganassi Racing at St. Petersburg four weeks earlier.
 
The talented young Dubai, UAE-born ace maintained that momentum by lapping seventh-fastest in the first free practice session behind the wheel of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, mastering a tricky track surface in conditions that were significantly warmer than when he had tested there pre-season.
 
Jones subsequently wound up 11th amongst the 23 high-calibre contenders in qualifying, held under the setting sun in a high-tension, high-pressure situation. His two-lap average of 184.313mph was sufficient to place the 2016 Indy Lights Champion and 2017 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ six spots ahead of four-time title-winning team-mate Scott Dixon, who had triumphed at ISM Raceway in 2016.
 
“It had been almost a month since St. Pete, so I was excited to be back in the No.10 NTT Data car for Phoenix,” he acknowledged. “We had a great test there earlier in the year where our car had been really strong, and I was looking forward to seeing how everything would work out racing under the lights in oval trim.
   
“In first practice, the track was really slippery. We encountered a bit of traffic on our mock qualifying runs, but it wasn’t terrible. I was happy overall to that point, but in qualifying we didn’t have an ideal run. My front bar in the car did something odd and I couldn’t make the adjustments I needed to, which made it really hard to attack and left us a bit behind the curve.”
 
If he was on the back foot, it did not show the following evening when the 250-lap, 255.5-mile Phoenix Grand Prix – the first of six oval races on the 2018 IndyCar schedule – roared into life under the spotlights. After swiftly fighting his way into the top ten, Jones spent his opening stint duelling with Tony Kanaan, the most experienced driver in the field and courtesy of a lightning-quick pit-stop from the Ganassi crew, he vaulted five positions up the order into fifth during the first caution period.
 
Notwithstanding the distraction of a vibration at the front of his car, the 23-year-old Brit held his own amongst the series’ heavy-hitters, and by dint of boldly standing his ground against Will Power when the second round of stops began just before mid-distance, he advanced another place to fourth.
 
Running confidently and competitively barely a second adrift of the lead and in-between the likes of Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden – IndyCar champions all – a strategic masterstroke from CGR with the timing of Jones’ third pit visit elevated him to second with 40 laps left to run.
 
Unfortunately, 11 laps later and after reporting that his car was starting to feel loose, the former European F3 Open Champion made contact with the circuit’s unforgiving outside wall while negotiating a backmarker. It was an uncharacteristic error from one of the most consistent drivers in the series, and a cruel blow when he had looked perfectly placed to break his podium duck – but he is already aiming to bounce back in the next outing on the streets of Long Beach in California this coming weekend (15 April).
 
“Phoenix was a long, very challenging race, as we had fully anticipated, but the car actually handled a little better than expected, tyre degradation wasn’t too bad and the CGR guys gave Scott and myself probably the best pit-stops in the field, which allowed us to gain ground – every time we came in, we made up positions,” reflected Jones, who is being coached by multiple IndyCar Champion and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti this year.
 
“We were having a great run in second and I was just trying not to take any risks, but then with barely 20 laps to go, I turned into the corner and the car went straight up into the wall – there was nothing I could do to save it. It was a big hit, and super frustrating because the NTT Data car was amazingly quick.
 
“On the one hand, I’m obviously upset with the mistake I made, but on the other hand, it was great for myself and the team to be fighting for the win in only our second race together. That gives us a lot of confidence for the rest of the season, and I’m looking forward to making further improvements at Long Beach.”

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Jones fights through field for 'smart' top eight finish in IndyCar curtain-raiser

  • Dubai-born Brit showcases street-fighting skills in 2018 IndyCar opener
  • Ganassi ace kick-starts sophomore season with hard-earned eighth-place finish
  • 23-year-old goes wheel-to-wheel with big-hitters in action-packed encounter


Ed Jones showcased his fighting spirit in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series curtain-raiser around the Streets of St. Petersburg in Florida last weekend (11 March), battling back from a difficult qualifying session to score a top eight finish on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut.
 
The talented Dubai, UAE-born ace – last season’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ – has switched camps to IndyCar powerhouse Ganassi for his sophomore campaign at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.
 
With limited testing opportunities for the 24 high-calibre contenders to get to grips with 2018’s new-look car – incorporating a universal aero kit that generates significantly less downforce than its predecessor and consequently reduced cornering stability – the first of 17 races on the calendar represented something of a leap into the unknown, and braking issues for Jones during free practice made it difficult to gauge the No.10 NTT Data entry’s true potential.
 
After working hard to improve the balance of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, the 23-year-old Brit looked primed to move up the order in the knockout qualifying session around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit through downtown St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, however, traffic scuppered his chances and restricted Jones to a disappointed 17th on the starting grid for Sunday’s 110-lap, 198-mile Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – albeit just three spots behind the defending race-winner.
 
Undaunted, the 2016 Indy Lights Champion went immediately on the attack when the green flag flew, gaining seven positions over the course of a superb opening lap. He would continue to feature around the fringes of the top ten as no fewer than eight full-course caution periods for a variety of incidents interrupted the action and threw strategies into disarray.
 
Along the way, Jones indulged in wheel-to-wheel scraps with the likes of reigning champion Josef Newgarden, fellow title-winners Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan – the most experienced driver in the field with some 344 IndyCar starts under his belt – not to mention his own Ganassi team-mate, four-time champion Scott Dixon. Keeping illustrious company indeed, he would climb as high as fourth place through a combination of impressively quick lap times and incisive overtaking manoeuvres – 21 in all.
 
The erstwhile European F3 Open Champion made his third and final pit visit with 32 laps to go, and as tactics played out in the closing stages, he found himself sitting seventh, directly behind Dixon and just shy of ten seconds ahead of Newgarden. Carefully managing his fading tyres and the gap to his chasing Team Penske rival, Jones was maintaining a consistently strong pace and had the situation firmly under control until a brace of late safety car interventions narrowed his advantage to next-to-nothing, leaving him powerless to defend his position against a driver running on significantly fresher rubber.
 
Surviving the drama to take the chequered flag eighth – a nine-place improvement upon his grid slot – the former British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Earl Howe Trophy winner was justifiably pleased with his performance, and is already looking forward to seconds-out, round two in the Phoenix Grand Prix under the floodlights of Arizona’s ISM Raceway on 7 April.
 
“We got off to a tough start in practice, but it was the same for everyone with the 2018-spec car,” Jones reflected. “I think we all probably had less grip than we’d anticipated. That’s a new challenge, but one I’m certainly up for. I also got caught up in traffic, which meant my speed wasn’t reflective of the package I had underneath me but we weren’t too far off.
 
“After struggling a bit on Saturday morning, we reverted to what we had run on Friday and I felt more comfortable in qualifying, but we just missed out on advancing to the next phase by a fraction of a second after a car came out of the pits in front of us and deterred our progress. That was obviously frustrating, but we had a great first lap on Sunday and made up a lot of early ground. As a team, I think we were smart all day and drove a very solid race.
 
“You always go back and look at some things you may have been able to do better, but all aspects considered, I think my first race with Ganassi went well. It’s been an exciting start to the season, and now I can’t wait for Phoenix!”

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