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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