But to many in the industry, RLL's selection of the 25-year-old driver from Leeds will come as something of a surprise. In his 31 races to date in the IndyCar, Jakes' best result was eighth place in last year's street race in Toronto, coming just weeks after his first top ten result in the championship at Texas Motor Speedway.
"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," insisted Rahal.
But although he's had a quiet first two years in IndyCar, he's also been consistent finisher and was notably improving throughout his sophomore season. Before his move to the States, he had successful stints in the British Formula 3 Series and Formula 3 Euro Series in 2007-2008, followed by appearances in the GP2 Asia Series and a full season in GP3. He finished the latter in eighth place in the final standings, despite missing four races because of injury.
As well as Jakes and Graham Rahal, the team has announced that it will also enter another British driver - Mike Conway - into the Long Beach event in April. Conway won the event in 2011 and raced for AJ Foyt Racing in 2012 but announced at the end of last year that he was no longer happy competing on ovals; RLL has indicated that they hope to run Conway in more road and street courses in the upcoming season in the financial arrangements fall into place.
Dale Coyne Racing has not formally announced any drivers for the new season, although it is expected to retain Justin Wilson in one of the cars for a second season. Wilson won last year's event at Texas for Dale Coyne, although the victory was slightly marred by post-race penalties for illegal bodywork being run on the car.
IN other team news, it's expected that EJ Viso will be added to the Andretti Autosport line-up in 2013. The Venezuelan driver - who has completed five years in IndyCar, two with HVM and most recently a hat-trick of seasons at KV Racing Technology - would be in a fourth Andretti car, as the team will be keeping Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe alongside their newly crowned champion Ryan Hunter-Reay for the new season.
The biggest name currently without an announced deal for the new season is Ryan Briscoe, who may be running out of options as it seems that Team Penske is being forced to downsize to a two=car operation this season with Will Power and Helio Castroneves already confirmed in the two cars.