Preparations are in full swing for Rinus VeeKay prior to his Pro Mazda debut season
This weekend’s Spring Training at Homestead Miami Speedway marks the official kick off for KNAF Talent First car racing talent Rinus VeeKay in his preparations for his debut season in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. One week later, the 17-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands will lay down some more miles during the second official Pro Mazda test at Barber Motorsports Park, immediately followed by the first round of the championship on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. “I have just had my first outing with the brand new Tatuus PM-18 and the car is incredibly fast. I’m really looking forward to the start of the season,” said a very excited VeeKay.
KNAF Talent First car racing talent Rinus VeeKay is in America for almost two weeks now to prepare himself for the start of the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. After his extremely successful maiden racing season where he claimed the title of vice champion in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, VeeKay steps up to the Pro Mazda Championship, the next category of the Mazda Road to Indy. The 17-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands joined Juncos Racing, the championship winning team in Pro Mazda.
This weekend’s Spring Training at Homestead Miami Speedway marks the official kick off for Rinus Veekay’s American campaign, as it is the first official test of the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. All drivers and teams are in Florida to prepare themselves for the new season and so the first test will be an indication who might be the favorites in 2018. One week later the teams will be at Barber Motorsports Park for a second two-day test, immediately followed by the first round of the Pro Mazda Championship on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida on March 9-11.
In 2018 the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will use the brand new and much faster Tatuus PM-18 chassis with a 2-liter 275HP Mazda engine. During a private test VeeKay had the chance to get familiar with his great looking green and white Juncos Racing Tatuus. “The car is incredibly fast, much faster than my 2017 USF2000 car and also much faster than the car they used in Pro Mazda last season. At some tracks our car will only be a few seconds slower than the Indy Lights,” said VeeKay. In the private test the 17-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands could also get familiar with his new team. “In everything you can see that Juncos Racing is a top team. They have a very professional attitude and structure, and everybody knows exactly what to do. The communication and cooperation are also great.”
In the last few weeks some more teams announced their driver line-up and as it looks right now, the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will not only be a competitive championship, but the title fight will be close as well. Oliver Askew, Rinus VeeKay and Parker Thompson, the top three of last year’s USF2000 championship, have all stepped up to this next level. The same is true for Robert Megennis, last year’s number six of the USF2000 title fight, and team mate of VeeKay at Juncos. Another young talented driver is 17-year-old Mexican Andres Gutierrez. Drivers with more experience in Pro Mazda are Brazilian Carlos Cunha (last year’s number three and also driving for Juncos Racing), Nikita Lastochkin and Sting Ray Robb, last year’s number five and six in the championship. A new team with a strong driver line-up is RP Motorsport Racing, an extremely successful Italian team from the European EuroFormule Open championship. RP dominated last year’s championship with 21-year-old Harrison Scott, one of the rising stars of British motorsport as he won twelve out of fourteen EuroFormula Open races in 2017. Lodovico Laurini will be the other driver for the Italian team. The latest addition to the Pro Mazda Championship is James Raven, winner of the Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival.
The tests at Homestead and Barber are not the only way VeeKay prepares himself for the start of the season as he also goes through a tough training schedule to be physically and mentally top fit. “I’m really looking forward to the start of the season and can’t wait to be back behind the wheel of my new car,” said a very motivated VeeKay.
This season, Rinus VeeKay is supported by Jumbo, La Place and the Dutch KNAF Talent First program.