x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Edward Jones is ready to rev it up for UAE

The Dubai College student knows exactly what he needs to do to become region's first F1 driver.

After driving in the BMW this year, Edward Jones is aiming to move up to Formula Renault.
After driving in the BMW this year, Edward Jones is aiming to move up to Formula Renault.

Edward Jones is a young man in a hurry.

Which is handy, because the Dubai teenager wants to become the UAE's first Formula One driver.

His career in motor racing began at the age of five at a race track in Jebel Ali with a kart his parents bought for him.

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Jones was nine when his domination of the sport in this region began and now, at 16, the Dubai College student is ready to take on the world.

Many in this country have dreams, realistic or otherwise, of becoming the first F1 star from the Middle East. They would do well to make it before Jones who, despite his English heritage, is determined to represent the UAE, the country of his birth, at the top level of motorsport.

Earlier this month, at a meeting at Snetterton, in England, the second round of the British Intersteps championship, he became the first UAE driver to win a Motor Sports Association British Car race. Driving superbly in his BMW, in three races he finished second, fourth and then first.

His success should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched his progress.

"My dad, Russell, was a Middle East racing champion in the 1980s and he started to take me to the races in the region when I was four and I got hooked," he said.

"To be fair to him, he never once pushed me into the sport. I just really loved it.

"I started driving a kart at five. There is a picture somewhere of me wearing a helmet that is bigger than the rest of my body.

"I had nobody to race, but what my dad did was, he set out drills for me on the track. He would lay cones for me to drive at and then change them for my next lap so there was something different. We even practised overtaking when there was nobody to overtake."

By the time Jones turned nine, when he could compete in Cadet Karting, he was ready. He was the UAE champion for three consecutive years before moving to the Junior Rotax level, where he won another three titles in succession.

In 2008 he was given the chance to race in Italy against junior champions from all over the world. He finished eighth out of 80 drivers, all their own country's champions, and recorded the fastest lap.

After this year in the BMW, the plan is to move up to Formula Renault, then Formula 3 before going onto GP2 and then F1.

"That is the dream and I know how difficult it will be to get even close to it," Jones said.

"The thing about motorsport is that it isn't just the best drivers who make it. You need luck on the way.

"You could suffer a mechanical failure in a race, which really hurts you, or another driver could take you out and there's nothing you can do about it."

And then there is the money. No other sport requires as much funding and Jones hopes for some help to come from within his birth country.

"I would need backing and I hope to get that from the UAE because, as I said, I would always represent this country," he said. "I need sponsors to help me travel all over the world.

"You've got to be dedicated and I have missed school and a lot of my social life. I'm not sure my friends realise just quite how full-on it is."

He does not allow his enthusiasm for racing get in the way of his schooling.

"My grades have actually gone up because my parents told me that I wouldn't be allowed to race if I didn't do well in school."

Jones's team is Fortec Motorsport and his manager, Keiran Crawley, has no doubt why his young driver is better than most.

"It's his work rate," Crawley said. "Ed works twice as hard as anyone else and that's why he's enjoyed the results he's had.

"I find it really interesting to see him in a new car for the first time because he picks things up so quickly.

"I worked with Lewis Hamilton when he was 14-17 years old as his mechanic and there are similarities between them. They come from very different background, but the steel and determination are the same."

ncameron@thenational.ae