Jones bags the points with solid finish at Milwaukee Mile
- US open-wheel rookie scores solid points in Wisconsin
- Dubai-based Brit gets more oval miles under his belt
- 20-year-old eager to build upon his progress at Iowa
Ed Jones mastered the Milwaukee Mile last weekend to come away with a solid clutch of points that have bolstered his championship challenge in the fiercely-contested 2015 Indy Lights campaign.
Jones arrived at the legendary Milwaukee Mile – the oldest active circuit in the world, having staged its first race all the way back in 1903 – with little prior oval experience under his belt. Indeed, his only previous outing had been around the similarly iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway a couple of months earlier.
Be that as it may, the 20-year-old Dubai-based Brit belied his rookie status during practice as he lapped a superb second-quickest, less than a tenth-of-a-second shy of the outright benchmark, but a significant shift in the grip level ahead of qualifying caught him out and left him seventh on the grid – albeit in front of his ex-Formula 1 team-mate.
A small mistake at the start of the race subsequently saw Jones slip to ninth, and with overtaking at a premium around the flat-out Wisconsin oval, he struggled to regain the lost ground, despite evincing a strong turn-of-speed inside the cockpit of his 450bhp Carlin single-seater. Towards the end, the newly-recruited Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé found himself needing to stave off sustained pressure from a couple of drivers behind, which he did with aplomb.
Flashing past the chequered flag in eighth position – less than two seconds adrift of one of his chief title rivals – the hard-fought result preserved Jones’ third spot in the chase for the coveted crown as he turns his attentions now to this weekend’s Iowa Corn Indy 100 at Iowa Speedway.
“We had a pre-season test at Milwaukee, but the track was completely different this time around, being cleaner and having rubber down from the IndyCars,” explained the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star and former European F3 Open Champion. “I really enjoyed the Milwaukee Mile, with its unique characteristics compared to other ovals we have been to.
“We always knew the ovals were going to be the toughest challenge for us, so we are taking advantage of every opportunity we get to improve and fast-track our performance to become as competitive on ovals as we are on road courses and street circuits.
“We showed some promising form in practice at Milwaukee, but my lack of experience hurt me in qualifying. In the race, I then made the wrong decision which cost me two places at the start, and whilst from there we had great pace, we were unable to pass.
“In the closing stages, I was trying to attack Spencer Pigot, but after a while my rear tyres began to fade. Even the subtlest of movements threatened to send the car into a big slide, so I had to switch my focus towards bringing it home in the best position possible. Overall, I learnt a huge amount and look forward to using my newfound knowledge in Iowa.”