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.