Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced Tuesday that the team will enter a second full-season program in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series for James Jakes. Acorn Stairlifts, the maker of the number-one selling Stairlift in the world, will sponsor Jakes' entry.
The 2013 season will mark the third for the 25-year-old Leeds, England native in the IZOD IndyCar Series. He made 31 starts for Dale Coyne Racing from 2011-2012 with his best series start of eighth place coming on the Motegi road course in 2011 and his best series finish of eighth coming on the Toronto street course in 2012.
“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. “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 began racing in 2002 in the British T-Car series where he finished second. He graduated to the British Formula Renault Series in 2004 and finished 12th in the standings and second in the rookie chase. 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 prestigious 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) where he won the Pau Grand Prix from pole in 2008 and set the fastest race lap. He earned two podiums in the GP2 Asia series (2008-'09) 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 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 with CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. “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.
RLL announced in January that Mike Conway would join the squad at Long Beach, making for a three-race entry there and possibly at some additional races.
“For us to be a two car team is a natural progression,” added Rahal. “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.”