Character building experience for VeeKay in chaotic race in the rain
The Road Course of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was hardly as kind to Rinus ‘VeeKay’ van Kalmthout as it was last year. A chaotic race in the rain at the track where the Dutch driver sealed his first NTT IndyCar Series victory in 2021 forced him to settle for a position at the back.
VeeKay went to Indianapolis in good spirits, as the 21-year old Ed Carpenter Racing driver had achieved top-ten finishes in three of the first four races of the 2022 season, culminating in a superb podium finish at Barber Motorsports Park. With VeeKay having won the GMR Grand Prix in Indianapolis in 2021, both team and driver were hopeful of a repeat performance.
Initially, things looked good for VeeKay, who held first position after his first qualifying run on Friday, on the hard tyre. However, in the second run, on the soft tyre, the #21 Building Tomorrow Chevrolet dropped down the order to leave VeeKay with a disappointing starting position on row 8.
Despite the fact that the start time of Saturday's 85-lap race was postponed several times due to impending rain, VeeKay was intent on showing his fighting spirit. After a delayed start and on a wet track, the Dutchman had to find his way around – a tricky task as VeeKay in his five-year career in the United States had never before raced in the rain. Nonetheless, the ECR driver quickly made his way to the front, and within three laps VeeKay found himself up in 12th place.
After an early series of first pit stops – VeeKay came in for fresh tyres after just three laps as the track was drying quickly – the former IndyCar winner told his team he had ‘great balance’, allowing him to go on the attack for the top-ten spots. This needed him to pass a number of drivers in front of him, including Callum Ilott. However, the British rookie was unwilling to give up his place without a fight, and this caused VeeKay a lot of trouble.
Taking avoiding action, the Dutchman took to the wet grass where he lost all grip and returned to the tarmac in sideways shape. Next up was rookie Devlin Defrancesco who was unable to dive past the ECR car and instead rammed VeeKay's car. The result was a stalled and damaged car that was two laps down.
The remainder of VeeKay’s race was all about damage control. After lengthy repairs in the pit lane, the 2020 IndyCar Rookie of The Year was allowed back on track only to find himself in treacherous conditions once again. The weather gods failed to leave Indianapolis alone, dry spells and rain following each other in quick succession.
This left VeeKay to take no more than 24th in the race, several laps down on winner Colton Herta. The Dutch ECR driver had to take his #21 Building Tomorrow Chevrolet to the finish with great care, gaining seven points from his participation. Despite the challenging race in Indianapolis, VeeKay still occupies a top-ten place in the standings, as with 112 points the Ed Carpenter Racing driver now holds a shared ninth place.
“It's a pity we didn't have a chance to fight for the top positions today, because a good result would definitely have been possible”, VeeKay said from the United States. “Friday's disappointing qualifying result was actually wiped out by the difficult conditions. It was my first IndyCar race in the rain and it was exactly what I expected – quite tricky. I've often wondered what the view would be like with the aeroscreen and now know it gets incredibly dirty!”
“I was able to get involved in the battle for the top-ten places before Ilott put his elbows out. Because of his actions I hit the grass, that was still wet. This caused the rear end to break away. Devlin hit me and from then on I was playing catch-up. The mechanics did a great job in getting my #21 Building Tomorrow Chevrolet back on the road but unfortunately I was so far behind that I could no longer play a significant role in the race."
“Let's hope it was a bad dress rehearsal auguring well for a good performance in the Indianapolis 500. Next week we’re off to the Speedway, our results from the recent past offer a lot of hope. I know that Ed Carpenter Racing has a strong team that is ready to go and I can't wait to compete in the biggest show in the world for the third time already, being part of the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indianapolis 500”, VeeKay concluded.
From next Tuesday onwards, when the first practice sessions get going, it will all be about the 106th edition of the Indianapolis 500 held on Sunday 29 May. Qualifying will take place on Saturday 21 May and Sunday 22 May, and the race will start one week after the last qualifying session at 18:00hrs Dutch time.