Dubai-based driver Ed Jones has been declared for the iconic Indianapolis 500 in a fortnight, where he will race against Formula One star Fernando Alonso.
Jones, who drives for Dale Coyne Racing in IndyCar, is among four rookies included in the line-up along with Alonso, Britain’s Jack Harvey and American Zach Veach.
Defending champion Alexander Rossi and three-time winner Helio Castroneves were among seven former winners named among the 33 cars entered for the 101st Indianapolis 500 on Sunday night.
The IndyCar namesake classic, 200 laps around the 4km Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, will be staged May 28 with qualifying next weekend.
In his debut IndyCar season, Jones, 22, has claimed 92 points and lies 12th of the 24 drivers with his best finish sixth place in Long Beach.
US racer Rossi took a shock win last year as a rookie, the first Indy 500 newcomer to see the checkered flag since Brazil’s Castroneves won his first crown in 2001 and Colombia’s Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2015 winner, took his first Indy 500 win in 2000.
Other past champions entered in cars this year include Americans Buddy Lazier (1996) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014), New Zealand’s Scott Dixon (2008) and Brazil’s Tony Kanaan (2013).
Castroneves, whose other triumphs came in 2002 and 2009, will try to become only the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner, joining US legends A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Snr and Rick Mears.
In all, 19 winners of IndyCar events are entered, including defending series champion and season points leader Simon Pagenaud, a Frenchman who carries a 10-point lead over Dixon into the race, and Australia’s Will Power, who won his 30th IndyCar title at Saturday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the track’s road course.
Two-time F1 champion Alonso completed his rookie orientation program at the speedway earlier this month while the others will begin their training sessions ahead of Monday’s opening practice.
There are 18 Honda-powered entries and 15 with Chevrolet engines. Among the other drivers linked to cars Sunday were Britain’s Max Chilton, Jay Howard and Pippa Mann and Japan’s Takuma Sato.
Rising UAE motorsport talent Amna Al Qubaisi is set to make history by becoming the first female Emirati and Arab driver to race in Formula 4 in Europe.
The 17-year-old, who became the first Emirati girl to win the karting UAE senior Rotax Max Challenge series last month, has been awarded a deal with Prema team, sponsored by Kaspersky Lab, which will see her test herself against some of the world’s best up-and-coming drivers in 2018.
The announcement is a major boost for the Daman Speed Academy junior in her aspirations of achieving her F1 dream and the Abu Dhabi schoolgirl is looking forward to being behind the wheel in such a “big” competition.
“It feels really amazing to be the first female driver of the UAE to be racing in Formula Four,” Amna said during a ceremony at Yas Viceroy hotel on Friday night.
“I feel very confident that I can do well there and this is the first step to Formula One. I hope that I can make good progress and hopefully soon I can make it in Formula One.
“I hope I can live up to the expectations of Daman Speed Academy, where I have trained. And of course Abu Dhabi Racing who have placed so much trust in me.”
She has the rest of the year to get familiar with the new car but she was pleased with her first outing on a circuit she knows well.
“I’ve tested the car at Yas Marina Circuit and in Dubai and hope to get good results. My karting experience will help me as Formula Four is a different strategy but I was within the pace when I tested,” she added.
“Prema are a great team who have delivered champions. Moreover, Kaspersky Lab has come on board to sponsor the first ever female Emirati driver at this level of racing, which is fantastic.”
By joining Formula 4, Amna will be following other young drivers to take the step from karting to single-seater racing in a competition designed to be a learning and affordable step in their bid of reaching the pinnacle of the sport – the F1. Drivers can receive FIA Super Licence points, which are required to drive in F1.
Since its inception by the FIA in 2014, it has already been hugely popular with impressive grids as new regions create their own competitions.
To date, there are 12 competitions on the FIA F4 calendar including the Australian, British, Chinese, Spanish and the UAE Championship. Father Khaled Al Qubaisi, founder of Daman Speed Academy and Abu Dhabi Racing managing director was thrilled with the major news and hopes she can now realise her ultimate dream.
“It has been four years finding a driver to go up a level and Amna has done it,” he said. “Racing with Prema and the sponsorship from Kaspersky Lab is immeasurable and we hope this association will go a long way in getting Amna to compete at the highest level.”
Kaspersky Lab’s managing director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, Maxim Frolov, added: “It’s great to see this success and professional growth in a sport that we support. In her achievements, Amna Al Qubaisi is a great example of human power combined with the best technologies. We believe it’s changing the paradigm of Emirati sports and taking it to newer, higher levels.”
Before her new ventures, Amna will be aiming to add to her trophy cabinet when she competes in the Grand World Finals of the Rotex Max Challenge in Portugal later this year. This season, she also came up trumps in the GCC Young Drivers Academy, while her efforts on the track saw her win the Outstanding Emirati Athlete accolade at the UAE Teen Sports and Fitness Awards.
Abu Dhabi Racing Junior Rally Programme driver Mohamed Al Mutawaa returns to racing action with the 52nd Antibes Cote d’Azur Rally, the French Rally Championship, beginning this Friday.
Following a break of nearly six months, Al Mutawaa is looking forward to the challenge with new co-driver Niall Burns of Ireland after his FIA Junior World Rally Championship campaign last season.
Continuing his learning curve, Al Mutawaa is now looking to gain experience in a new championship where he will run on tarmac in Nice behind the wheel of a DS3 R3 run by PH Sport.
Al Mutawaa said: “First of all, I am really grateful for this opportunity to Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Abu Dhabi Racing for their continued support. It is an honour to be in this dream team for the last five years.
“I am really looking forward to get back in that racing seat as it has been nearly six months since I have been competing. The plan for my first race of the season is to try and get things back flowing nicely again.
“I have a new co-driver in Niall and I am looking forward to learn from him and build a strong relationship so we can have good notes and drive with confidence.
“The championship is home to some of the best rally drivers in the world, so it will be tough. For the first rally of this season I will try and get my rhythm back and most importantly gain experience from the mileage over the three days.”
The 52nd Antibes Cote d’Azur Rally consists of 14 special stages, with total length of 207.88 Km.