James Jakes links back up with Manor in WEC

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James Jakes will race in the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship with the new Manor LMP2 team.

Jakes raced in four IndyCar seasons between 2011 and 2015, driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports last year and recording a best finish of third at the Grand Prix of Louisiana.

Former Manor Formula 1 bosses John Booth and Graeme Lowdon announced last month that they would be entering the WEC this year in LMP2, retaining the F1 team name.

Earlier this week, former Manor F1 driver Will Stevens joined the two-car Manor WEC programme, and will now be partnered by Jakes for 2016.

Jakes previously enjoyed ties with Manor when racing in F3 Euro Series in 2007 and GP3 in 2010.

“I’m delighted to be joining Manor WEC Team. I’ve known John for many years and when the opportunity came up to work together again I couldn’t have been happier,” Jakes said.

“To have the chance to go endurance racing competitively on some of the greatest tracks in the world, I’m very excited. I have been racing in the USA for the past four seasons and to start back up again at Silverstone where it all began for me is just icing on the cake.

“It’s going to be a very busy few weeks leading up The Prologue and the first race, but I have every faith that we will be fighting for some good finishes this season.”

Booth added: “It is great to welcome James back to Manor, another talent to our growing driver line up. It will be good to pick up where we left off following successful seasons with James in both Formula 3 and GP3 series.

“I have had some good results with James in the past and hope to carry this onto WEC.”

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”