Jones made an immediate impression when he steered his single-seater career stateside in 2015, claiming pole position on his debut with Carlin and winning his first three races en route to third position in the final standings.
With a season’s experience under his belt, the UAE-based driver raised his game this year and at the end of an intensely hard-fought campaign, clinched the crown.
His polished performance brought Jones to the attention of a number of IndyCar outfits, and after holding talks with several teams, the 21-year-old Briton has put pen to paper for Dale Coyne Racing – a squad with multiple victories and podium finishes to its credit.
“I’m hugely excited to be stepping up to the Verizon IndyCar Series next year with Dale Coyne Racing,” he said.
“To reach an agreement as early as we have done is great news as it gives me plenty of time to settle into the team and get to know everybody properly so we can prepare as well as possible for the season ahead.
“IndyCar has been my goal ever since I left Europe to come and race in America, and it’s crazy to think I’ll be joining the grid just two years after moving stateside. Together with my management team and sponsors, I’ve worked so hard for this opportunity and I fully intend to grab it by the scruff of the neck and make the most of it.”
Dale Coyne has a reputation within the paddock for mentoring and bringing the best out of young drivers.
Dale’s eponymously-named team has also been a happy home for a number of Britons, with Mike Conway and the late Justin Wilson having both won races for the Illinois-based operation.
The second season of the Emirates Schools Karting Championship (ESKC) got underway at the Dubai Kartdrome on Sunday evening as 19 teams lined up on the grid for ESKC Senior Round One.
Season One Nomad Cup winner, Ghost Racing Team, set the early pace of the evening by taking control of the qualifying session with a best lap time of 1:11.106, almost a half second over both JESS Arabian Ranches and Repton School.
Fast drivers can put up good qualifying times, but to win a 60 minute ESKC endurance race, teamwork, precision and strategy are also vital to win silverware. Lessons from the previous season proved valuable for returning teams.
After the race start JESS Arabian Ranches soon took the lead and began to put distance on the rest of the field. Repton School and Dubai English Speaking College (DESC) Team 4 gave chase but could not close the gap.
The chequered flag belonged to JESS Arabian Ranches, who crossed the finish line a comfortable 20.541 seconds ahead of Repton School. DESC Team 4 trailed in for third place.
The race winners were happy with the results but the team members were well aware that the competition will get tougher as the series progresses. Sam Burtonwood of JESS Arabian Ranches stated, “It feels good to win again, but we still need to carry on and keep cool for the next races.”
In the Nomad class, with teams composed of drivers of mixed schools, Ghost Racing Team is once again the team to beat for those aspiring to the top step of the podium. Students of Ghost Racing claimed first place medals for the night, just beating out P1 Racing for second and VDR Racing in third.
David Bright of Dubai Kartdrome said afterward, “With the new regulation updates, such as adding a minimum pit lane duration time and a maximum driver stint time, the racing is now very much focused on team effort, rather than individual efforts.”
“With so many parents and teachers out here to cheer the kids on tonight it was such a great atmosphere. We’re proud of their support as well as from the schools, the ATCUAE and the FIA.” He added.
The other DSA drivers – Hamda Al Qubaisi (Junior Max), Ali Al Shamsi and Abdulla Al Qubaisi (both Mini Max) – did well to finish inside the top 10 in their respective class. Amna, though, was in a class of her own, pushing the limits in the Pre-Final by surging ahead to fourth from eighth on the starting grid.
She then began the final in sixth on the grid and raced ahead to third overall. In the earlier round, Amna secured a third-place finish in class to give DSA yet another podium in the new season. Amna now is second overall in the championship in class.
Al Shamsi and Abdulla Al Qubaisi did well to finish inside the top 10 in their respective class in the Mini Max. Meanwhile, sevenyear-old Mohammed Al Qubaisi now leads the championship in the Bambino class by a healthy margin.
DSA founder Khaled Al Qubaisi said: “Our drivers did a great job, Amna again on the podium in a tough group and the boys also doing really well to finish fifth and sixth in their class.
“Hamda also did well but was unlucky with her overtaking manoeuvres which ended with her losing a couple of positions. But overall, I am happy with our drivers and the progress they are making and we’re looking to solidify our position in the championship.”