Jakes upsets Hunter-Reay

James Jakes comes around turn one during the IZOD Indy qualifying race Saturday. Ryan Hunter-Reay...

James Jakes comes around turn one during the IZOD Indy qualifying race Saturday. Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified first. (CODIE MCLACHLAN/QMI Agency)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:48 PM ET

EDMONTON - James Jakes is trying to earn some respect.

Being from across the pond and relatively new to the IZOD IndyCar Series, the British driver sometimes has to stand his ground, even if that means occasionally upsetting a veteran.

In the opening practice session Friday, Jakes rubbed Ryan Hunter-Reay the wrong way holding on to his line on the track, while the series leader was trying to pass him.

Hunter-Reay was penalized for going by Jakes, then intentionally angling him towards the edge of the track.

“We spoke about it after, but I guess we kind of agreed to disagree on what happened,” Jakes said. “I still kind of stand my ground on that situation and I’m sure he’ll stay on his position.”

A native of Leeds, England, Jakes is in his second season with Dale Coyne Racing. He was hired by the team after testing well for them in March 2010, having spent all of his racing career, to that point, outside of North America.

“We spoke to a number of teams over here and felt, at the time, that Dale Coyne would be the best option,” Jakes said. “I did a test with them last year and did OK, so we worked on a deal for last year and then got a deal for this year.”

Jakes is coming into Edmonton off his best performance of the year, finishing eighth in Toronto two weeks ago.

What made the top-10 finish all the more impressive is the fact he started the race in 24th spot after taking a 10-grid penalty for changing his engine.

He’s hoping to repeat the performance in Edmonton with a much better starting position.

“Our Boy Scouts of America car has been running pretty well this weekend, but we’ve just been a little bit off here and then,” Jakes said. “It’s a bit frustrating, but we’re going to work on it tonight and try and get a good result (Sunday).

“I think generally we’re pretty confident as a team, but we’re struggling to find the sweet spot and I think we’re getting closer. We have two great engineers on board that keep pounding away and hopefully we can get some good results.”

Jakes had put together a couple of solid practice sessions before heading to qualifying Saturday. He went out in the second qualifying group and just missed out moving on to the next round, finishing eighth.

Jakes finished 16th overall in qualifying, but will move up as a couple of drivers have been assessed grid penalties for switching engines.

“Qualifying wasn’t too bad actually, we got out there at the same time as everybody else,” Jakes said. “But it was pretty frustrating missing out on the next group by 9,000th of a second.”

Despite being his second season, Jakes is still learning the ropes on the IndyCar circuit. He finished 23rd in his Edmonton debut last year.

“This track is different from the one in Toronto, there is a lot of heavy braking here, there are a lot of slow-speed corners,” he said. “Concentrating on the two races, Toronto has a little bit of everything, but you only have one hairpin down on the back straight and that’s it really. You have a lot of medium to high-speed corners there, where here, it’s all mainly low to medium.”

The biggest adjustment to the IndyCar Series for Jakes was racing on the ovals, which can be foreign to European drivers.

“The ovals have taken a bit of getting used to, but what’s surprises us this year is that we’ve probably been more competitive on the ovals,” Jakes said. “We had a quick car in Milwaukee until I got involved in an accident with Takuma (Sato). Then I had a bit of a miscommunication in Iowa.

“The ovals have taken a while to get used to, but the road courses we’re just missing a beat here and there. Hopefully we can work it out with four more left after here. Hopefully we can do well.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNdvandiest


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