No full reward for dominant Rinus VeeKay in Indy Lights at Road America
TeamNL driver Rinus VeeKay once again proved his speed during the fifth round of the Indy Lights Championship Presented by Cooper Tires at Road America. The 18-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands was by far the quickest driver in qualifying and both races. Only a drive through penalty could hold off the Juncos Racing driver from winning the opening race of the weekend. In race number two VeeKay was in a class of his own by claiming the victory with a 13-second margin over the number two. It was the third win of the season for the TeamNL driver. Of course the young Dutchman also claimed the quickest lap in both races.
After the race at the Indianapolis oval, the Indy Lights Championship Presented by Cooper Tires returned to a traditional road course for races eight and nine of the title race, Road America, the 4.014-mile track near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. From the very first moment TeamNL driver Rinus VeeKay made loud and clear that he felt very comfortable at this beautiful and challenging track. In practice the 18-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands was quickest, to claim the pole position for both races in qualifying. In qualifying for race number one VeeKay impressed with a string of three laps that were all quicker than the best lap of the number two qualifier, to claim the pole position for race number two in the second qualifying session with a margin of over 0.2 seconds over the number two qualifier.
After a great start VeeKay took the lead in race number one and immediately drove away from the rest of the field. But in turn number seven the Juncos Racing driver ran wide over the curbs into the grass. VeeKay regained control of his car and re-joined the racing surface and, as the race stewards judged it, made a move to block his pursuers. At the end of the first lap VeeKay went into the pits for his drive-through penalty and re-joined the race 23 seconds behind the number eight in the race and 37 seconds behind the leader. VeeKay started an impressive comeback drive and was by far the quickest driver on track. After twelve laps the TeamNL driver had made up the 23 seconds and was back in eighth position to claim the seventh position only a few laps later. It was loud and clear that, without a drive-through penalty, the Juncos Racing driver would have won the race as he finished only 16 seconds short of the race winner. VeeKay also claimed the quickest lap of the race, 0.2 seconds quicker than the second quickest driver. “I made a mistake coming out of turn 7. I respect the stewards that this was a block and worth a penalty, but the drive through just confuses me here. It is what is and let’s go for the win in race number two,” said a disappointed but combative VeeKay.
And that was exactly what happened as in race number two it was payback time for VeeKay as his competitors only saw him at the start and on the podium. After a good start VeeKay drove away from the rest of the field in a very impressive way. Each lap of the TeamNL driver was much quicker than that of any other driver in the field and after twenty laps VeeKay finished with a 13-second margin over the number two. This commanding victory was the third win of the season for VeeKay, who finished on the podium in six out of the nine races so far this season. In the championship VeeKay is in second position, and now only three points short of the leader.
“The speed we had was mega this weekend. The car felt great and I like this track. I kept on pushing in the second race as well, but always with a margin to make no mistakes. I’m really happy with this weekend, especially with the speed we had. The mistake in race one and the drive through, which was a bit too much I think for what I did, were the only little blots on this weekend, but overall it was great. I’m really forward to the next round in Toronto,” said VeeKay. For races ten and eleven the Indy Lights Championship Presented by Cooper Tires heads to The Streets of Toronto. VeeKay has good memories of this street circuit as he won both races in the Pro Mazda Championship in Toronto last year.