Phoenix: Dubai-born Indy Car driver Ed Jones has hailed his first oval test with new team Chip Ganassi Racing at ISM Raceway in Arizona as ‘extremely positive’ as he ramps up preparations for his second season in the series.
The 23-year-old UAE-based Brit switched from Dale Coyne Racing to Ganassi over the winter off-season after finishing third in last year’s Indy 500 and winning Rookie of the Year. He’s now getting to grips with a new team and a new car, plus a universal aero kit that IndyCar has rolled out for 2018.
“The 23-year-old switched from Dale Coyne Racing to Ganassi over the winter off-season after finishing third in last year’s Indy 500 and winning Rookie of the Year.”Share on facebookTweet this
The new design produces less downforce than last year, reducing cornering stability and placing more emphasis on skill behind the wheel, a challenge that the 2016 Indy Lights Champion is relishing.
Following an initial outing at Sebring International Raceway in Florida last month, Jones returned to the cockpit of his 720 brake horse power Dallara-Honda single-seater for more tests around Phoenix’s 1,022-mile oval, which is the venue for round two of the 17-stage 2018 Indy Car Series that kicks off on March 11 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Over 12 hours on the track, Jones covered 283 laps and featured as high as seventh on the timesheets before finishing 12th fastest with an average speed of 302-kmph, less than a tenth of a second short of four-time championship-winning teammate Scott Dixon — the most successful driver in the format’s modern era.
Jones has one test remaining — back at Sebring at the end of February — before the season starts in Florida next month.
“The test went really well,” said Jones. “It was my first time running with the new aero kit on an oval, so there was a certain degree of adapting to do as we worked on finding the best set-up for the car, but we logged a lot of very solid laps and by the second day I felt much more comfortable and able to attack more.
“The new package is very different to last year, when we were pretty much flat the whole way round the lap on ovals. Now, due to the reduction in downforce, there is more lifting involved, which makes it more difficult to hold onto the tyres over longer stints. That will introduce more of a technical and tactical element into the driving, which I think will suit me well.
“We made a lot of changes over the two days and learnt and improved a great deal. Although we still have more pace to find and plenty to pick up in a short space of time, we’re heading in the right direction and I believe we left Phoenix in a much stronger position than when we arrived, both in terms of single-lap speed and race simulations, which is all extremely positive.
“I am confident we can be competitive from the outset at St. Petersburg next month, and I’m really looking forward to the season. I feel completely at home inside the team and while I’m under no illusions that it’s going to be tough — because the level in IndyCar is sky-high right now — I have a great opportunity with Ganassi this year and I fully intend to make the most of it.
“I don’t want to set myself any specific targets as such, because until we go into qualifying at St. Pete, we don’t know what the current pecking order is. That will be the first true litmus test, but I’m excited to get out there and see what we can do.”
The IndyCar season will be broadcast on OSN in the UAE.