IndyCar: Jones fights through field for ‘smart’ top eight finish in IndyCar curtain-raiser

IndyCar: Jones fights through field for ‘smart’ top eight finish in IndyCar curtain-raiser

Ed Jones showcased his fighting spirit in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series curtain-raiser around the Streets of St. Petersburg in Florida last weekend (11 March), battling back from a difficult qualifying session to score a top eight finish on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut.

The talented Dubai, UAE-born ace – last season’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ – has switched camps to IndyCar powerhouse Ganassi for his sophomore campaign at the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.

With limited testing opportunities for the 24 high-calibre contenders to get to grips with 2018’s new-look car – incorporating a universal aero kit that generates significantly less downforce than its predecessor and consequently reduced cornering stability – the first of 17 races on the calendar represented something of a leap into the unknown, and braking issues for Jones during free practice made it difficult to gauge the No.10 NTT Data entry’s true potential.

After working hard to improve the balance of his 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, the 23-year-old Brit looked primed to move up the order in the knockout qualifying session around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit through downtown St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, however, traffic scuppered his chances and restricted Jones to a disappointed 17th on the starting grid for Sunday’s 110-lap, 198-mile Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – albeit just three spots behind the defending race-winner.

Undaunted, the 2016 Indy Lights Champion went immediately on the attack when the green flag flew, gaining seven positions over the course of a superb opening lap. He would continue to feature around the fringes of the top ten as no fewer than eight full-course caution periods for a variety of incidents interrupted the action and threw strategies into disarray.

Along the way, Jones indulged in wheel-to-wheel scraps with the likes of reigning champion Josef Newgarden, fellow title-winners Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan – the most experienced driver in the field with some 344 IndyCar starts under his belt – not to mention his own Ganassi team-mate, four-time champion Scott Dixon. Keeping illustrious company indeed, he would climb as high as fourth place through a combination of impressively quick lap times and incisive overtaking manoeuvres – 21 in all.

The erstwhile European F3 Open Champion made his third and final pit visit with 32 laps to go, and as tactics played out in the closing stages, he found himself sitting seventh, directly behind Dixon and just shy of ten seconds ahead of Newgarden. Carefully managing his fading tyres and the gap to his chasing Team Penske rival, Jones was maintaining a consistently strong pace and had the situation firmly under control until a brace of late safety car interventions narrowed his advantage to next-to-nothing, leaving him powerless to defend his position against a driver running on significantly fresher rubber.

Surviving the drama to take the chequered flag eighth – a nine-place improvement upon his grid slot – the former British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Earl Howe Trophy winner was justifiably pleased with his performance, and is already looking forward to seconds-out, round two in the Phoenix Grand Prix under the floodlights of Arizona’s ISM Raceway on 7 April.

“We got off to a tough start in practice, but it was the same for everyone with the 2018-spec car,” Jones reflected. “I think we all probably had less grip than we’d anticipated. That’s a new challenge, but one I’m certainly up for. I also got caught up in traffic, which meant my speed wasn’t reflective of the package I had underneath me but we weren’t too far off.

“After struggling a bit on Saturday morning, we reverted to what we had run on Friday and I felt more comfortable in qualifying, but we just missed out on advancing to the next phase by a fraction of a second after a car came out of the pits in front of us and deterred our progress. That was obviously frustrating, but we had a great first lap on Sunday and made up a lot of early ground. As a team, I think we were smart all day and drove a very solid race.

“You always go back and look at some things you may have been able to do better, but all aspects considered, I think my first race with Ganassi went well. It’s been an exciting start to the season, and now I can’t wait for Phoenix!”

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10 hrs ago

MotoGP

Throwing it back to the #Moto2 race of the #BritishGP 2012 🇬🇧

Enjoy the last laps battle for the 2nd place between Marquez and Redding! ⚔️

#MotoGP
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Good. laps .. for redding.. Marquez out...

I was there.....Brilliant racing!!

Very drunk day but remember the race. Loved watching Scott race. All packed and ready for Silverstone Thursday morning.

I was there, great finish. Home crowd went wild when Redding got back in front, then deadly silent when Marquez had a look up inside on last bend, then wild again when Redding cut back across. Amazing stuff!

Very nice

All these guys are big talents. Many riders like Pol Espargaro, Alvaro Bautista, Bradley Smith, Antony West & many more are great riders and capable of winning championships ( capable ). People underestimate these guys by their bad results, but really..top material is key in these classes, especially in the MotoGp class. Give them a solid ride and they'll blow your mind

Great performance by Pol & Scott at the end💪🏼..that was a cracker💥..

Redding never got the ride he deserved.

2019, #93 is the winner..😋🏁

special suter chassis for marc and mysterious team 😉 after marc step up to motogp, this team directly disappear, nobody know where are they now.

however Mac Marquez with his current performance does not have to be Marquez's best

MM 93

Just shows how good Redding was but never really got the bike to really take it to them in Motogp.

Very cool video MotoGP. More like this one please!!!

Man, I miss Scott Redding in the padock "let's get it babi"

Redding and Iannone can beat Marquez they just don't get competitive bikes

Muy buena carrera no apta para cardíacos 🤭🤭🤭

Forget just how good Redding could have been with a decent bike

now whrs redding? gone?

Nice to see maq battle for other place than 1st

Luthi is moto2 governor.. 🤣🤣🤣

Kaj mu je pa SCOTT REDDING naredil,šale in kape.😀

Bring back Redding

duel one on one in the final lap marquez lose .....

Joe Barker a fond memory. Can’t believe how empty it looks!

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13 hrs ago

MotoGP

The dramatic moment which cost Marc Márquez a shot at victory at Silverstone two years ago! 😱

The world champion's misfortune opened the door for Andrea Dovizioso to snatch the win! 💨

#BritishGP 🇬🇧
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Maybe that won’t see this sunday, I’d rather watch all the riders fighting for the victory. ✊🏻🏍

Good Day all.

Encore! Encore! Do it again!

Unlikely to be repeated! Hope Dovi brings his A game though. 👍🏼👍🏼

Gave the rest a chance

So what's new?? Sometimes these kind of technical failures happens in Motorsport... Very rare that engine blow sky high to premier class bike.

I love coming here and waiting for all the Yellow gob smokers.

I thought "the legend" was gonna win that day.. 😅

Was at this race, and that bike blowing up was almost as good as a Rossi win 😀

RAre footage for sure

Ah, I could watch that Honda blow up all day every day...

Cmt giữ chức

Alex Groenewold finger cross 😅👍.. voor komend weekend

#MM93 Come Back STRONGER! 💪💪💪😎👍👍👍

Fast forward >>>> he is the world champion!!

Wow

From 2013 ride same bike. Omg. I never meet coward person in motogp like this. All want to see u wc with weaker bike like a aprillia, ktm, suzuki or yamaha. Not ducati. Ducati strong now no need you

And finaly , the boss MM93 won the title one more time

Saya Mie Halim moh top fan sama sama

Nothing can stop him not even a broken bike ! Simply the king of MotoGP !

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15 hrs ago

F1

Cue the celebrations, Bob! 🍾👏 ... See Less

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Must be an awesome feeling..I certainly Would love to work with f1 even if it was to clean a window.

Nice. Long time lots of great words over the years

Awesome to get behind the scenes!

I love the voice of that guy

Cheers to the great Bob!!!

Amazing. I remember this voice. Thanks.

More than 660 wow ! I mean that’s amazingly nice, being with the next generation sharing your experience & catching something new from them it’s a nice way. Good going Bob keep it up & don’t forget to change the baton when you still can... 👍

Bobs Brilliant we love Bob in our house 👍🏻

Love these little insights into the F1 community 👍

It’s nice to now be able to put a name/face to the voice. Keep up the good work Bob. 🎤 🔈

Amazing with the “carmen opera” music

( •_•) ( >💎 oh! Preciosa insignia! /︶\

Awesome to put the face to the voice.

Hey I’m a top fan again, but it is really cool to put a face to the voice. I never really thought about it till I saw this

Big respect for Bob cheers 🍾🍾

I now have proof of what he does when he goes away. He is my legend

I should celebrate with champagne too after being promoted to top fan for god knows what reason 😂

Finally we get to see the man! 🙌🏻

I always wondered who did the podium announcements and if it was done locally or in England. 👍

Thanks for the Top Fan position!

Never seen the man behind the legendary announcements !

Wait, what if he is the meow guy! 😆

Always wondered who did the podium announcements and now we can put a face to the voice

660 races and counting .....give Bob some champaaaaaaaagne!! 🍾🍾

The unsung hero of F1 😁😂🍾

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