|James Jakes came to America to live out his dream. He's turned out to be a quick learner|
James Jakes came to America as a very green rookie: never having driven IndyCars, never having seen an oval, and certainly not running in this competitive of a field. This weekend, however, it was a coming out party in which the personable Englishman finally got to show his true skills.
Jakes gave a first show of his talent in qualifying where, not only did he make the Firestone Fast 12 for the first time this year, but continued his pace to put up a time that gave him 8th position, his best qualifying of the year. He even beat out his seasoned teammate Sebastien Bourdais by 6 spots on the grid. Both drivers went on to run the Sunday morning warm up in 4th and 5th positions, again with Jakes leading the way.
The race started out great for both drivers. Jakes had his best start of the season and worked his way up to 3rd place on the tough 2.9 mile Motegi road course. However, with success came heartbreak as Jakes was on his way to a coveted podium finish when he stalled the engine on the exit of his last pit stop. He dropped back to 18th due to this mishap but fought back to finish 13th. Ultimately, it was a great weekend for James Jakes and the team showing serious promise and setting the pace for 2012.
“What a shame," Jakes said. “We were running so well all weekend and this, the last road course of the year. I cannot thank Dale and Don for all of their leadership and patience this year and of course having a teammate like Seb has helped me immensely this year. We can take all of this good and build an even stronger program for next year. I can’t wait."
Sebastien’s race, on the other hand, was one of patience. After running strong all weekend and just missing the Firestone Fast 12 in qualifying, Sebastien steadily moved forward from his 14th starting place to record his 4th sixth place finish of the year.
“I am sad to see my stint here end on the last road course of the season," Bourdais said. “But if all works out well, I will be back next year for a full-season and look forward to building on all that we have done to grow this team this year."
With two oval races yet to go this year, Jakes will be joined by his oval teammate Alex Lloyd for the next two and final rounds of the season.
“What a weekend for James, and what a year for Sebastien and our team," commented team owner Dale Coyne. “We have worked hard to build the right pieces for this year and it is our goal to continue on as is, to continue to move forward and up the grid in 2012 and beyond."