IndyCar: James Jakes returns to series with SPM

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The lottery for one of the most popular remaining seats on the Verizon IndyCar Series grid has gone to James Jakes, with the veteran Englishman returning for his fourth season after a year’s hiatus.

Jakes will make for an all-James lineup at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, in the No. 7 Dallara DW12-Honda alongside James Hinchcliffe in what is currently the No. 77 entry.

Jakes raced three seasons previously, from 2011 to 2013. He raced with Dale Coyne Racing for two years and moved to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2013, where he scored a runner-up finish at Detroit and consistently hassled teammate Graham Rahal.

“First of all, a big thank you to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to test last week in NOLA after 16 months away,” said Jakes, who as mentioned tested last week in New Orleans. “I’m extremely excited and motivated to drive the No. 7 Honda SPM IndyCar in 2015.

“The team has done a fantastic job over the past few seasons and I look forward to continuing that progress. I believe that – between myself and James [Hinchcliffe] – we can really push the team to the top of this sport. I’m excited to be working alongside him as we look to help Honda in maximizing the new aero kits. It’s going to be an exciting year and I cannot wait to get started in St. Pete.”

Team co-owner Sam Schmidt noted the experience factor after having rookies Mikhail Aleshin and Tristan Vautier in the second car the last two years.,

“We are very pleased that James will be competing with SPM in the No. 7 for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar season. The goal of the team when it moved to IndyCar in 2011 was to get to the point where we had two veteran drivers in the car, capable of pushing each other. This finally checks that box.”

Jakes beats out a host of others who tested over the offseason, including Conor Daly, Stefano Coletti, Davide Valsecchi, Rodolfo Gonzalez and Rocky Moran Jr. Other drivers were mooted for the seat, as well.

Alex Zanardi showing signs of interaction three months after crash

Alex Zanardi recovery
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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MILAN — Italian racing driver turned Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi has started responding to treatment with signs of interaction, more than three months after he was seriously injured in a handbike crash.

Zanardi has spent most of that time in intensive care after crashing into an oncoming truck during a relay event near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19.

“For several days now. Alex Zanardi has undergone cognitive and motor rehabilitation sessions, with the administration of visual and acoustic stimuli, to which the patient responds with momentary and initial signs of interaction,” the San Raffaele hospital in Milan said in a statement Thursday.

The hospital said that is “significant progress” but added that his condition remains serious, and that it would be “absolutely premature” to make a long-term prognosis.

Zanardi, 53, suffered serious facial and cranial trauma in the crash and was put in a medically induced coma. Doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

He was operated on several times to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face and the Milan hospital added that he recently had undergone another surgery to reconstruct his skull and would have another one in the coming weeks.

Zanardi lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago. He won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.