VeeKays promising Detroit result goes up in smoke after being tapped by competitor

VeeKays promising Detroit result goes up in smoke after being tapped by competitor


A respectable seventh place was on the cards, with the prospect of more, but it wasn’t to be for Rinus ‘VeeKay’ van Kalmthout after he got tapped by a competitor. As a result, he finished the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix in 14th place.



After a busy month of May, the NTT IndyCar Series drivers continue to work tirelessly, as the first two weekends of June see both the sixth and seventh rounds of the 2024 season. The first race of this diptych would take place on the streets of Detroit, on the new circuit where IndyCar has raced from 2023. Having finished ninth in the Indianapolis 500, VeeKay headed to Motor City in high spirits to put his Ed Carpenter Racing #21 Chevrolet through its paces.


In practice, the green and black car proved to be less than kind to the softer Firestone rubber. As a result, the team decided to give VeeKay just one set of new tyres in qualifying, rather than several, a decision that failed to work out as hoped. In fact, the 23-year-old Dutchman only managed tenth place in his qualifying group, which was converted into eighteenth place on the grid following a grid penalty for a rival.


From there, VeeKay was in for a long race on the physically demanding Detroit street circuit, the birthplace of engine supplier Chevrolet. However, in the opening laps, VeeKay made an immediate impact, as the single IndyCar race winner steadily worked his way to the front, staying away from the chaos that usually accompanies the start of a street race. A third of the way through the race, the ECR driver found himself in a promising seventh position.


While some of his rivals changed to wet tyres when it started to drizzle in Detroit, VeeKay stayed on the dries like a true down-to-earth Dutchman. The team gave him the option to change tyres, but the 23-year-old correctly judged that it wasn’t raining hard enough to make the change. As a result, VeeKay had a whiff of the points and managed to stay with the leaders after the restart, but sadly wasn’t allowed to enjoy his strong position for long.


Indeed, as he entered the first corner after the long straight where the restarts took place, VeeKay was touched twice on the inside by Will Power. The stewards ruled that the Australian was to blame for the contact and penalised him, but by then it was too late for his Dutch opponent. VeeKay had gone backwards into the wall and it was only thanks to the marshals’ decisive action that he was able to continue.


By cleverly staying on the lead lap, VeeKay steadily worked his way up from a hopeless 23rd position to a place in the top 15. At the chequered flag, after a hundred crazy laps of chaos and cautions, the Dutch ECR driver crossed the line in 14th place – and that was the maximum, as VeeKay had to go into extreme fuel-saving mode in the final laps. The madness of the Detroit circuit was symbolised by none other than Power who managed to finish sixth despite having to take no less than four penalties during the race.



“This was obviously a crazy race,” said VeeKay from Detroit. “It felt like Nashville,” said the 23-year-old referring to the city’s street circuit known for its chaotic races. “I tried to stay out of trouble, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. On one of the many restarts I was touched by Will Power. Luckily I managed to stay on the lead lap, but with the damage and my fuel situation I couldn’t do much more.”


“It’s a shame because it looked so promising. When other drivers came in for rain tyres, I decided to keep going. There was some moisture in the air and on the track, but not enough to change rubber. I was seventh when I got the tap. I think we also need to take a look at our strategic choices after the incident, because Power finished sixth, while he didn’t overtake me at all on the track.”



“All in all, I am happy with the weekend’s performance. Obviously I want to win races and get podiums, but we are moving forward and I got the most out of it. Next weekend we get to race again, this time it’s at my favourite track. Road America is fantastic, I can’t wait to race there," VeeKay concluded.


The NTT IndyCar Series continues next week with the XPEL Grand Prix at Road America. The iconic circuit near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, will be the venue for the race on Sunday, June 9, starting at 21:30 Dutch time.