Jones produces podium-threatening pace on stellar IndyCar debut

Sport360 staff 15/03/2017

Ed Jones proved to be immediately at home on his Verizon IndyCar Series bow around the streets of St. Petersburg last weekend, as the talented Dubai-based ace graduated to the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition in fine style by running firmly up at the sharp end en route to his maiden top ten finish.

Jones lined up 18th on the starting grid in his 720bhp Dallara-Honda, just four spots and barely a tenth-of-a-second behind defending title-holder Simon Pagenaud – but when the lights went out in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg the next day, the former European F3 Open Champion found himself tagged and pushed into the car in front in an opening lap mêlée, prompting an unscheduled pit visit to check for damage.

Happily, the #19 entry was still fully intact and once the action resumed, Jones began working his way up the order.

Confidently holding his own in illustrious company of the ilk of three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Hélio Castroneves, former IndyCar Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay and his ultra-experienced, multiple title-winning DCR team-mate Sébastien Bourdais, he proved to be completely unawed by his adversaries’ formidable reputations.

His first planned refuelling stop on lap 25 fortuitously coincided with a full-course caution period for debris on the track, elevating the Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé to fourth. Shortly after the re-start, he superbly snatched third place from Marco Andretti into Turn One and maintained that position right through to his next pit-stop more than 20 laps later.

Jones continued to run impressively inside the top five until he pitted for the final time with 26 laps to go. Rejoining the fray down in 11th, he fought back into the top ten before the chequered flag to cap an excellent performance in what was a long, mentally gruelling and physically punishing encounter – in so doing, consummately demonstrating that he unequivocally belongs at the highest level.

“Pre-season testing went pretty well and I felt very comfortable in the car arriving in St. Petersburg, even though I hadn’t had that much seat time,” he reflected.

“I’ve been working well with the team and get along with everyone there. Until the first race, it’s always hard to know where you stand against the opposition because there are so many variables, so we had no solid expectations for the weekend but what was clear was that Dale Coyne Racing had taken a massive step forward from where they were last year."

“I’ve always loved street circuits and St. Petersburg is a great track. It’s where I made my debut in American racing and it was a perfect debut, so I have good memories there. The infield section is very technical and quite tight and then it opens up a bit towards the main straight.

“I was really excited for my first IndyCar qualifying session, though it was a little frustrating that the red flag came out early on. That meant I didn’t get to have an initial go on the Firestone Reds, so I didn’t really have time to adapt and had to go straight out again on a new set and push from there.

"For me, it was a bit of an unknown how the jump was going to be and by the time I realised how much deeper I could go, the tyres had already started falling off their best.

“That said, the car was really good and I felt like I was finally there. I just felt at home, which was the most important thing – and it was the same in the race. It was fantastic to run inside the top five for so long and to finish tenth first time out was a really promising result."

"That underlines what a tremendous effort the whole team has put in over the winter months to develop this car and make it stronger, which is all credit to Dale, the DCR boys and Honda. With Seb winning, we now have great momentum moving forward and I already can’t wait for the next race at Long Beach!”

Most popular

Related Tags

Back to back SWS Senior Cup victories for Saeed Al Mehairi

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Emirati karting ace Saeed Al Mehairi bagged another win on Monday night (13 March) in the Sodi World Series (SWS) competition, picking up his second Senior Cup win in a row while Kelly Fergal topped Masters and Junior Cup driver Kyle Kumaran reached the top step of the podium for the first time.

Al Mehairi has been a dominant force in 2017, racking up an Endurance Championship first place trophy with team Batelco Racing Drag965, a pair of solo SWS Senior Cup trophies, and he will compete in the SWS World Finals in Paris in May.

It was Romaldo Labrooy who owned the pace early on during qualifying, beating Al Mehairi to pole by a mere 0.059 seconds, setting a benchmark lap time of 1:11.367. The next eleven drivers set times less than a second off the top mark.

Thirty-one Senior Cup karts lined up for Race One, and six of those made a swift getaway at the start to separate from the pack and battle it out for the lead. Al Mehairi jostled his way to the front of the breakaway group and held on for the win, crossing the line just 0.594 ahead of Abigail Birch, who was shadowed by Anjum Shaikh in third.

A similar struggle developed in Race Two, with seven racers jumping out in front with the lead kart changing from lap to lap. Ahmed Al Hammadi, Abigail Birch and Romaldo Labrooy were all contenders for the win, but it was the steady and swift driving of Saeed Al Mehairi that prevailed in the end.He took the chequered flag by 0.231 seconds over Labrooy, with Al Hammadi behind to claim third.

0314 Kartdrome 1

When the final points of the two races were calculated, Al Mehairi was the clear Senior Cup victor with 80 points. Birch took home second place silverware on a total of 67 and Labrooy secured third place with 65.

Impressed with the determination of his rivals, Al Mehairi said: “Everyone on the podium today really deserved it because we were fighting the whole time from the beginning of the race until the end.”

In the Masters category, for SWS Senior drivers 35 years or older, Kelly Fergal improved on his third place finish in the last round, claiming the top step of the podium. Damian Hehir had to settle for another second place finish, while newcomer Sam Badawi secured an impressive third.

Zaid Haddad was the SWS Junior Cup frontrunner early on, topping the qualifying screens with a best lap time of 1:20.377, edging out Kyle Kumaran by 0.227 seconds to secure pole position.

After the lights went out in Race One, Haddad was forced to drop back as six drivers struggled for the lead. Alexander Renner fought his way up front and hung on for victory, crossing the line 3.509 seconds ahead of Kumaran, who maintained his second place grid position. Haddad trailed in for third.

0314 Kartdrome 3

In the next race three Kumaran, along with the Al Azhari brothers—Enzo, Keanu and Adam—all got in the mix for the frontrunner spot. The scrapping was close all of the way into the final lap, where Enzo managed to take the win by just 0.849 seconds over Kumaran. Keanu Al Azhari was right behind to take third place.

Unable to nab a race win on the night, Kyle Kumaran was still able to earn the overall SWS Junior Cup victory with a total of 72 points due to his consistent second place results. Alexander Renner finished within striking distance on 69 points and Enzo Al Azhari took home the third place trophy with 67 points.

After bagging his maiden SWS Junior Cup win Kumaran said: “I finished second in both races, so this is surprising. It’s not easy. You have to practice a lot and these people are really good.”

The next SWS Sprint Series Race Night will take place at Dubai Kartdrome on Monday, 27 March 2017.

Most popular

Related Tags

Related Sections

Aberdein wins inaugural F4 UAE Championship

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

The penultimate round of Yas Racing Series, which was held at Yas Marina Circuit this weekend, got off to a roaring start with not one but four Championship races taking place including the TRD 86 Cup and the final of the inaugural Formula 4 UAE Championship.

Friday saw fan favourite, the single-make TRD 86 Cup, return to the track, supported once again by Toyota Racing Development (TRD).

Spectators were not disappointed as the first race was a non-stop battle for supremacy consisting of bumper-to-bumper dicing and intense overtaking action. In a tremendous scrap, the drivers pushed their racing machines to their limits and the lead spot changed hands numerous times in a nail-biting race.

0314 F4 UAE 3

Two-time reigning champion, Karin Al Azhari, showed that experience was key and snatched the victory with a time of 20 minutes and 49.952 seconds. Following just a second behind Al Azhari was Shihab Al Fahim (20.50.927) with Magh following in third, crossing the line in 21.04.245.

Race 2 again saw Al Azhari triumphant with a first-place, finishing 17 laps in 20.55.909. Al Fahim finished in second with a time of 21.01.326 and Magh finished comfortably in third with a time of 21.08.541.

The final round of the F4UAE Championship powers by Abarth saw South African racer Jonathan Aberdein from Team Motopark claim the overall title. Dubai-based Sean Babington finished third in the championship for Energy Dubai F4 racing Team and was voted winner of the inaugural F4UAE Sportsmanship Award as well.

0314 F4 UAE

Team Motopark from Germany claimed Teams Champion honours, the QMMF F4 Team won the GCC Nations Cup Trophy for best GCC team, while their lead driver Ahmad Al Muhannadi won the Best Performing GCC driver award.

In the Radical Middle East Cup Jani Hjerppe finished 43 laps in 46.00.040 which secured him first place in Race 1. Crossing the line in second,15 second later, was Sergey Shalunov (46.15.233) followed by Lukashevich-Makarovskiy (46.15.760) in third. Race 2 saw an electrifying battle for first place between Sergey Shalunov and Lukashevich-Makarovskiy.

0314 F4 UAE 4

After 37 laps of the track Sergey Shalunov secured first place with a time of 45.10.036, crossing the line just 1 second ahead of his competition, meaning Lukashevich-Makarovskiy (45.11.862) had to settle for second and Dumitrascu- Smith (45.14.531) in third.

In the Formula Gulf 1000, Race 1 saw Omar Gazzaz take top spot with Alex Karkosik in second.

The fourth and final round of Yas Racing Series will take place in April 2017 and tickets can be purchased for as little as AED 25.

Most popular

Related Tags

Related Sections