Chip Ganassi Racing driver Ed Jones claims that he is “heading in the right direction” after an “extremely positive” first oval test with his new team ahead of the upcoming 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series. The Dubai-born British driver makes the switch to Chip Ganassi for 2018 having driven for Dale Coyne Racing in his rookie season last year.
Jones, who will drive the Ganassi #10 NTT Data Honda, used his first test at Sebring International Raceway to get acclimatized with his new team and the new-for-2018 aero-kit on his car. His next test came last week when Jones, like many of the 2018 IndyCar drivers, took to the ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona to conduct his first oval test of the year. Jones claims that the test went fantastically and that he was able to learn a lot about the car and the setup as the two days went on.
“The test went really well,” said Jones, who clocked the twelfth fastest time of the test, “It was my first time running with the new aero kit on an oval, so there was a certain degree of adapting to do as we worked on finding the best set-up for the car, but we logged a lot of very solid laps and by the second day I felt much more comfortable and able to attack more.
“The new package is very different to last year when we were pretty much flat the whole way round the lap on ovals. Now, due to the reduction in downforce, there is more lifting involved, which makes it more difficult to hold onto the tyres over longer stints. That will introduce more of a technical and tactical element into the driving, which I think will suit me well.”
“We made a lot of changes over the two days and learnt and improved a great deal,” Jones continued, “Although we still have more pace to find and plenty to pick up in a short space of time, we’re heading in the right direction and I believe we left Phoenix in a much stronger position than when we arrived, both in terms of single-lap speed and race simulations, which is all extremely positive.
Jones is hoping to continue to improve as he enters his second season in IndyCar. Last year, Ed took rookie of the year honours after finishing fourteen in the championship standings. He took five top ten finishes with Dale Coyne, including a best finish of third at the Indianapolis 500. Whilst, of course, Jones will be hoping to better his results from last year, he claims he has no specific targets set just yet as the season-opener at St. Petersburg draws ever closer:
“I am confident we can be competitive from the outset at St. Petersburg next month, and I’m really looking forward to the season. I feel completely at home inside the team and whilst I’m under no illusions that it’s going to be tough – because the level in IndyCar is sky-high right now – I have a great opportunity with Ganassi this year and I fully intend to make the most of it.
“I don’t want to set myself any specific targets as such because until we go into qualifying at St. Pete, we don’t know what the current pecking order is. That will be the first true litmus test, but I’m excited to get out there and see what we can do.”
The first race of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, takes places on March 11.