Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced that it will field a second full-time entry for the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season for James Jakes.
Jakes, 25, of England, will drive the Honda-powered No. 30 Acorn Stairlifts car as a teammate to another first-year team member, Graham Rahal. It will be the first time the team has run two full-season programs since 2007 (Scott Sharp and Jeff Simmons, who was replaced for Mid-Ohio at mid-season by Ryan Hunter-Reay).
“I wanted to put myself in a position where I could get results that I believe I am capable of and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is a good fit for me,” said Jakes, who had made 31 series starts the past two seasons with Dale Coyne Racing.
“If you look back at the results and the product that Bobby and the team have put on the track, he’s always got a car that is running up front and the team does things first class. I had negotiated with Bobby when I first came to the series but we weren’t able to put a program together until now. It will be great for the team to have two full-season cars to move ourselves forward and push us to where Bobby and the team want us to be – at the top of the grid.”
Jakes recorded two top-10 finishes last season, with a best of eighth at Toronto after starting 24th. He began racing in 2002 in the British T-Car series and graduated to the British Formula Renault Series in 2004. In 2005, he returned to the British Formula Renault Series, finishing second in points after seven podium finishes and two poles. That year, he was also named a Rising Star by the British Racing Drivers' Club and was a McLaren Autosport Award finalist.
He progressed to the British Formula 3 Series and on to the Formula 3 Euro Series (2007-2008). He earned two podiums in the GP2 Asia series (2008-2009) and a pole and two podiums in GP3 (2010) and finished eighth in series standings despite missing four races because of injury.
In 2011, he moved to the IZOD IndyCar Series after a test with Dale Coyne Racing.
“I am really pleased that James is joining our team,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. “I have seen him run competitively on numerous occasions and have felt all along that given the environment we can create for him he can achieve the success he has sought in Indy car racing. He and Graham get along and communicate well and I think that is important for the team. We’re pleased to have him and we think it will be a good combination."
Graham Rahal, who competed the past two seasons at Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing, joined his father's team in autumn. He's already tested in the No. 15 car at Sebring International Raceway and Barber Motorsports Park. The season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is March 24. Rahal won the event in 2008 and started from the pole in '09.
“For us to be a two-car team is a natural progression,” Bobby Rahal added. “A year ago we restarted the team to really build toward this time. We positioned ourselves in Indianapolis to take advantage of everything the open-wheel industry can provide us with and obviously, as was proven last year, a one-car team can be competitive.
"But there is no doubt in my mind that a two-car team is a much more efficient and productive way to go racing. There is twice as much information, twice as much everything, and that helps you progress that much quicker. James is obviously an aggressive, competitive driver and I think that having both he and Graham on board raises the performance of the team as a whole.”