Indy 500: Dubai's Ed Jones finishes third, Takuma Sato wins iconic race

Stuart Appleby 29/05/2017
A first Indy 500 victory for Sato.

Dubai-born star Ed Jones produced a stunning rookie performance to finish third at the 101st edition of the Indy 500 in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon.

The 22-year-old, who started 11th in the fourth row, showed skill and know-how that belied his young years as he secured a podium spot for Dale Coyne Racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway circuit.

It was an historic drive for Jones on his debut at the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing', with the Brit finishing just behind three-time champion Helio Castroneves in second and overall race winner Takuma Sato.

"It was a great race for me and I've had a great car for the whole past month," Jones, who still has a base in the UAE and is expected to return to the Emirate in September, said.

"The race was a learning experience and I gained so much from the drive and how I made passes. Throughout the race I mixed it up quite a bit against Helio but he was the one car I couldn't really defend against.

"He was quick but it's great to have acknowledgment from a driver like him that I drove well - hopefully we'll be racing next year (against each other for the title)."

Andretti Autosport driver Sato, who started in fourth position on the grid, is the first driver from Japan to triumph in America's historic competition.

The 40-year-old also became the oldest winner since Eddie Cheever in 1998 and made amends for his heartbreaking and close-run defeat in 2012.

"It's an unbelievable feeling, I can't describe it. I want to thank my team," he told media after completing 500 miles (200 laps) of the famed 2.5 mile long track the fastest.

"It was obviously a tough, tough race but it was fantastic to be out there - I hope the crowd enjoyed it."

Meanwhile, two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso was forced out on his debut Indy 500 appearance with just 20 laps to go due to engine failure.

The 35-year-old produced a near-perfect drive for McLaren-branded Andretti Autosport and led the field on several occasions.

Alonso received a standing ovation from the capacity 300,000 crowd as mechanics helped their star driver off the track.

"It's been one of the best experiences of my career," Alonso, who skipped the Monte Carlo Grand Prix to race in the United States, said.

"It's very nice to race here and prove I can compete against some of the best drivers and be competitive. If I come back, I know I will come back with something."

The other major incident of the race involved pole sitter and 2008 champion Scott Dixon, who fortunately escaped unhurt in a spectacular crash.

Britain's Jay Howard bounced off the outside wall near turn one on lap 53 and slid into Dixon's vehicle, sending it careening into the air and sliding along a guardrail on the inside of the track, a burst of flame shooting from the back end.

Both drivers soon climbed out from their cars.

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Indy 500 Diary - Day 3: Thousands gather for annual parade

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Soaked in sun: Downtown Indianapolis.

THE SUN IS OUT…AGAIN

The sun shined once again in Indianapolis on Saturday and hundreds of thousands of racegoers will be hoping for more of the same come Sunday’s Indy 500.

Thousands of people lined the city’s streets for the traditional pre-race parade – centering on the theme of ‘Accelerating the American Spirit’.

The event of course marks the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ but also honours men and women who have served the United States (Memorial Weekend).

It was a brilliant atmosphere as 14 bands marched and performed side-by-side with a procession of floats and helium balloons, which all had a motorsport theme.

Hundreds of volunteers were involved in the procession as people gathered along Pennsylvania and Meridian Streets.

See below for a glimpse of the action:

LEGENDS DAY AND CONCERTS

In another pre-Indy 500 tradition, Saturday saw legendary drivers of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway circuit meet fans for autograph and memorabilia sessions before the fourth annual Legends Day concert – featuring multi-platinum selling and award-winning artist Keith Urban.

HOW TO WATCH THE ACTION UNFOLD IN THE UAE…

The race begins at 12.19pm local time (8.19pm UAE time) in Indianapolis on Sunday May 28.

The Indy 500 will be available for viewing on ESPN.

Sport360.com will also have full coverage of the race across our channels.

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Indy 500: Dubai-born Ed Jones on biggest day in his career

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Sport360's Stuart Appleby interviews Dubai-born Indy 500 star Ed Jones before he takes to the track at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway circuit in Indiana on Sunday.

ED: I have to pinch myself that I'm about to race in the Indy 500 for the first time. When you're doing so many things at once you can sometimes forget about the enormity of it all but when you take stock - you're very aware that you're about to compete in the biggest motorsport race in the world.

I've done everything I can to prepare and I've been working really hard with the Dale Coyne Racing team in Indianapolis.

I'm feeling really confident, I had a great qualifying result and averaged over 230mph - outpacing three previous winners of the event.
My final practice session on Friday went okay and our race car, the 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, has been really strong.



I'm confident my team of engineers will give me a solid car so now it's just down to me on race day.

I'm in a good starting position, 11th place, and will begin from the middle of the fourth row. This is actually the best position Dale Coyne Racing have achieved in their history of IndyCar racing - so that's a massive boost for the team and I.

Team spirit: Jones and Dale Coyne Racing.

I raced here last year in Indy Lights, so I came in with a bit of 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.

The heavy rainfall in Indiana throughout May has made the conditions a bit more unpredictable and they are always changing.

Although we know we will only race in dry conditions, the weather could still play a massive factor - affecting timings and the race schedule.

Our car works better than others in certain conditions and temperatures, so it's still a bit of a lottery - but that applies to all drivers and teams.

It's my first Indy 500 so I'm just going to have to try and keep myself together and focus on the process rather than getting too wound up in the whole experience.

But, that said, I know it's a massive occasion and I do have to try and embrace it too. I've completed a lot of races now and I feel I can deal with everything.

The target is getting through those early laps where it can get quite busy and then making my way into the race - the aim is to be there at the last pitstop in the front group.

Pace ace: In qualifying action in Indiana.

It was a really unfortunate crash for my team-mate Sebastien (Bourdais) but that's what happens in this sport when you push the limits and he was gunning for a very fast qualifying time. It's the risk factor.

Seb's obviously hurt but he's still in good mental shape and he will be missed in the race. I went to see him a few days ago and it's great news he's now been discharged from hospital. As always, he was there giving me tips so it's good to see he's still like that and thinking about racing.

I finished behind Fernando Alonso as the second quickest rookie in qualifying and his switch to IndyCar is huge for our sport. He has obviously achieved so much in his career and in Formula One.

But, there's a lot of guys out there who are just as talented as he is. I know he wouldn't have contemplated competing in Indianapolis unless he was positive he had the best equipment, so I'm sure he's going to be very competitive.

Dubai is still home for me - my parents live there and I always go back in the off-season. It's good to see all the local karting community watching all of my races, supporting me and sending messages. I'll hopefully be back in mid-September to see everyone at the end of the season.


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