One of the protagonists seeking to secure this year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship, Ed Jones, got a bit of extra track time that might help him going into the second-to-last weekend of the Indy Lights season in a car he hopes to be driving full-time next year.
The 21-year-old Dubai-based Brit stepped aboard Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda as part of an Indy Lights driver test day at Watkins Glen International, one of four Indy Lights drivers to do so. The others were Andretti Autosport teammates Dean Stoneman, Dalton Kellett and Shelby Blackstock.
This was Jones’ second IndyCar test day, and like at Sonoma last year, it was with RLL. The Watkins Glen test gave him an opportunity to sample the resurfaced upstate New York road course, where Indy Lights will race alongside the Verizon IndyCar Series on Labor Day weekend.
“It was fantastic to climb back into the cockpit of an IndyCar, and I owe a huge thanks to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for placing their confidence in me and affording me the opportunity,” Jones said afterwards. “Watkins Glen is such an iconic circuit, and its fast-and-flowing nature really showcases the IndyCar’s incredible downforce. I settled straight back into the groove and felt comfortable pretty much immediately, which was really positive and it was great to work with the team again.
“We’ve made no secret of the fact that moving up to IndyCar is our principal objective for next season, so the more track time I can get in one between now and then, the more prepared I will be to take that step because I learn more every time I go out. It’s notoriously difficult with the funding required and limited number of seats, but we’ve spoken to a couple of teams with regard to 2017 and are exploring all potential options.”
RLL team manager Ricardo “Rico” Nault said Jones did all that was asked of him and then some.
“Ed did a fine job for us,” Nault said. “He methodically got up-to-speed and never put a wheel off. The team hadn’t been to Watkins Glen with an IndyCar since we won there in 2008, and it has changed a lot since then – the track has recently been repaved and it is much faster. Ed found that the car was reasonably balanced to start with, but he was able to provide good feedback that allowed us to make it even quicker.
“The way the IndyCar rules are structured, we needed Ed to complete as many laps as possible. This left him to put in long stints and run the tyres longer than a fuel load but even under these conditions, he still produced good times on old rubber. This is a very demanding track and Ed was able to keep up with it physically. All told, we are very happy with the job he did for us and we thank him for his efforts.”
RLL has been back to a single-car full-time team since 2014, although Graham Rahal made no secret of the fact at the Mid-Ohio weekend he’d like to see the team resume with a second car full-time.
Rahal posted an on-board video of Watkins Glen, and it looks crazy fast.