Jakes shakes off cobwebs in first RLL test

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James Jakes had his first day of running for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing on Wednesday at Barber Motorsports Park.

The Englishman spent two seasons with Dale Coyne Racing and waited an extra day to make his debut at RLL aboard the team’s No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Dallara-Honda.

“It was nice to get back in the car,” he said. “I haven’t driven since September of last year so today was a case of dusting off the cobwebs and learning how everyone works at the team. Mike did a great job with the car on the first day.”

The aforementioned “Mike” is Mike Conway, who ran on Tuesday and ended the day fourth quick at 1:08.1584. Jakes went quicker, as all drivers did on Wednesday, to clock in at 1:07.8912. That time was 11th quickest overall for the week.

“It was pretty easy to drive really and you can’t ask for much more,” said Jakes, who will worth with engineer Eddie Jones. “It was a positive day and we will just keep working and hopefully we can carry on the momentum to St. Pete. Obviously Graham (Rahal) had a bad day but we managed to get a lot of work done so hopefully he can look at that and we can get both cars to the sharp end of the grid in St. Petersburg.”

Jakes has one of the least distinguished resumes on the IndyCar grid this season, but that said, Bobby Rahal’s team has had a history of polishing rough diamonds and turning them into potential race winners. Jakes could draw inspiration from Michel Jourdain Jr., who won twice for Rahal in the 2003 CART series, and finished third in the championship. He’d had only one top five finish through the first six seasons of his career.

 

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”