As American Le Mans Championship Contender, Ian James Most Definitely on a Roll Braselton, GA - Ian James has had a great season thus far even with the change of sports cars halfway through the year. As one of the favorites to win the American...
As American Le Mans Championship Contender, Ian James Most Definitely on a Roll
Braselton, GA - Ian James has had a great season thus far even with the change of sports cars halfway through the year. As one of the favorites to win the American Le Mans Series LMP2 driving championship as well as the series Rookie of the Year award, James is definitely making a name for himself in the world of professional sports car racing.
Born and raised across the pond in England, James was hooked on racing at an early age as a result of watching his father race. James went on to compete in his first race at age eight which only served to fuel his desire to someday race professionally fulltime. His early career included competition in the British Formula Vauxhall Junior Series, where he was championship runner-up in 1994. In 1995, he contested the Skip Barber Eastern Series in the USA and won four of the first six races before an accident ended his season.
Making his debut in the American Le Mans Series in 2000, James took a breather from ALMS competition and returned for the 2003 season for one race. With the start of the 2004 season, James had a full time ride with John Macaluso's Miracle Motorsports and started out the year performing well in the No. 10 Miracle Lola. Midway through this season, James had the opportunity to change cars with Macaluso's acquisition of the Courage C65 and now finds himself in the race for the LMP2 championship in his first full season of ALMS competition.
"Obviously the season started really well with winning the race at Sebring," James said. "We went on to win again at Lime Rock before we got the new Courage, which we won with at Road America. Any season where you win three races is a great year in itself, but the opportunity to be one of the ALMS champions is surely a highlight of my career so far."
James is currently four points ahead of his co-driver, James Gue, in the race for the LMP2 championship. As long as the two continue to compete together, it is mathematically impossible for Gue to grab the championship from James.
"When James came on board, that was obviously the deal," James said. "He (Gue) was there just to help my chances and the team's chances. So after the second race, that was understood to be just the way it is. I think James has appreciated what I have helped him with this year and he's come along and is really competitive now. We have really worked as a team and we do get along very well together inside and outside of the track. He has definitely aided my attempt to try and get the championship, but he has also had a really good car to drive and I think if you ask him he would say that he has enjoyed this year as well."
James also has a 21-point lead over fellow competitors Clint Field and Robin Liddell. Therefore, as long as he and Gue finish 70 percent of the season-ending race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Oct. 16 and score at least four points, James can't lose the championship to Field and Liddell, no matter what.
With the 2004 ALMS season coming to a close, James is eager to spend some much needed time relaxing and enjoying his off-track hobbies. However, he admits that even when he is not racing, he can be found at the track anyway.
"Come November or December there will be some testing in order to get ready for next year," commented James. "I have been on the road quite a lot this year so it will be nice just to take a couple of weeks break and head up to Montana for a bit of relaxation. I love sports and I play quite a bit of golf and I regularly play tennis. I also love being on the lake water skiing, jet skiing that kind of stuff. But usually if I am not at a race track driving, I am at another track coaching somebody else who wants to get better with their driving abilities."
James will obviously enjoy his time away from sports car racing although brief. For the 2005 season all outlooks point to the return of James to fulltime ALMS competition.
"Ever since the ALMS was born, it has been my drive to be in it," James said. "There are outside factors, but if it's up to me I'll be there come Sebring next year as it is obviously some of the best racing in America."