Rinus van Kalmthout shows great pace and scores first win in MRF Challenge
KNAF Talent First car racing talent Rinus van Kalmthout (Rinus VeeKay) impressed during the opening round of the MRF Challenge in Bahrain and proved to be one of the favorites to win the title in this year’s edition of this India based single seater championship. The 17-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands was the fastest driver almost all weekend and emphasized this with three pole positions, two quickest lap times in the races, a dominant win, a runner-up finish and an impressive race where he finished fourth, starting from 16th position. A mechanical problem was the only reason the KTF driver didn’t score a second win. “We had some ups-and-down, but overall it was a good weekend. But without the bad luck, it could have been even better,” said Van Kalmthout.
Last year KNAF Talent First car racing talent Rinus van Kalmthout had his first race in the MRF Challenge. This season the 17-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands will do all events in this India based single seater championship. The MRF Challenge is a series of four events, with four races per event, at tracks in Bahrain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and India. The 230 bhp cars are similar to Formula 3 cars and are owned and prepared by the series organizer. Several young and talented drivers use this winter series to gain more experience and to be well prepared for the 2018 season. The MRF Challenge has a competitive entry list and is getting more and more important in the world of single seater racing.
This weekend the MRF Challenge kicked off with the first round at Bahrain International Circuit in Bahrain. In free practice Rinus VeeKay, the name Rinus van Kalmthout uses in America and other international races, had problems with the set-up of his car. The team found a hole in the diffuser and when this problem was fixed, Van Kalmthout showed his real pace in qualifying by claiming pole position for race one and three with almost half a second margin over the number two qualifier.
In the first race of the weekend Van Kalmthout was on his way to victory and leading the race with a margin of 1.7 seconds, when, with only three laps to go, his car was hit by electronic problems and VeeKay had to park his car. It was even more painful for the young Dutchman as his 16th position also was his starting position for race number two.
But VeeKay bounced back in race number two, proving his real potential. The KTF driver choose the right line after the start and was in 11th position at the end of lap one, and was sixth after four laps. Even a damaged front wing couldn’t hold him back from resetting the fastest lap time several times. Van Kalmthout closed the gap to the driver in fifth position and claimed that position as well, finishing only 6.4 seconds short of the winner. Because one of the drivers in front of him received a 20 second penalty for a jump start, Van Kalmthout finished the second race in fourth position.
In the third race Van Kalmthout started from pole position once again, was the fastest driver on track and drove away from the rest of the field, to claim his first MRF Challenge win with a margin of over seven seconds. The KTF driver emphasized his dominance by resetting the fastest lap time several times.
His lap times in the first three races handed Van Kalmthout the pole position for race number four as well. The Dutchman had a good start and because the two drivers behind him were fighting each other, VeeKay was able to drive away and had a margin of one second halfway the first lap. A safety car brought an end to his lead as at the restart the driver behind him took advantage of his slipstream and passed Van Kalmthout. In a great fight Van Kalmthout was able to keep his second position, but the race distance was too short to close the gap to the leader and claim his second win of the day. After four races and still twelve to go, Van Kalmthout is the number four in the championship.
“The speed was great in all four races, and without that mechanical problem in the first race, the results would have been even better. But with still twelve races to go, we can still win the title. I learned a lot and I can use that experience in the near future,” said VeeKay, happy with the results in the first MRF Challenge race weekend.
But this was not the last racing action for Van Kalmthout in Bahrain. Today, Sunday November 19, the young Dutchman will test the Jackie Chan DC Racing JOTA Sport Oreca 07S-Gibson LMP2 sports car, and on Monday VeeKay will test the Fortec Motorsports World Series Formula V8 3.5.
This season, Rinus van Kalmthout is supported by Jumbo and the Dutch KNAF Talent First program.