Rinus VeeKay claims fifth position at Road America and climbs to second spot
KNAF Talent First car racing talent Rinus VeeKay claimed two fifth positions at the Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Road America, round number five of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. But that was far from what the 17-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands was aiming for after his double victory last year in the USF2000 races at the same track. VeeKay was by far the quickest Juncos Racing driver in both races and on his way to a podium finish, but struggled with a bad setup of his car in the second half of the races. The KTF driver lost speed, he could do nothing to resist the pressure of the chasing drivers and dropped back to the fifth position. The only positive news was that VeeKay scored enough points to take over the second position in the championship after five rounds.
The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires kicked off the second half of the season in Elkart Lake with races eight and nine at the beautiful Road America 4.014-mile road course. KNAF Talent First car racing talent Rinus VeeKay has great memories of the Road America track, as in his maiden season the 17-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands won both USF2000 races there last year. In the much quicker Pro Mazda category VeeKay was among the frontrunners as well and claimed the number three and four spots in the two qualifying sessions, securing a position on the second starting row in both races. But the Juncos Racing driver knew that the number one position would have been possible as well. “In qualifying for race one I had to avoid a slow driving Oliver Askew, last year’s USF2000 champion. When you see that I was 0.08 seconds short of pole position, you know more than enough. In qualifying for race number two I had to abort my quickest lap as there was a car standing on the racing line. At that moment I was half a second quicker than in the previous lap,” said VeeKay about qualifying.
Starting from third position on the grid, VeeKay had a good start and was almost in second position when he got stuck in traffic and lost a position. In the next couple of laps the Juncos Racing driver tried his very best to overtake the driver in third position. But in the long and fast corners VeeKay’s car lacked the pace to retake the third position. In the last few laps VeeKay’s tires were deteriorating so much, that the KTF driver lost the prospect of third position and even had to defend his position against the driver in fifth spot. VeeKay was able to counter a few attacks, but in the last lap he was helpless, was passed, and crossed the finish line in fifth position.
At the start of the second race VeeKay choose the right racing line and gained two positions.
After the restart from behind the safety car, VeeKay lost one spot, but bounced back with a great maneuver and was in second position again. But once again, after a few laps his Juncos Racing car lost pace. The KTF driver dropped back one position and while the two drivers in front of him disappeared into the horizon, the chasing group rapidly became bigger in his mirrors. On lap 13 VeeKay was helpless when he lost two more spots to finish in fifth position again. Although VeeKay was by far the best classified and quickest Juncos Racing driver, it was loud and clear that the team made the wrong choice in the setup of their cars as all three drivers lost many positions in the second half of the race.
Because VeeKay expected so much more from the races at Road America, he was very disappointed. “We thought it would be possible to score many points at this track. The car was good over one lap, as you could see in qualifying and the first few laps of the race. But after those first few laps, the struggling started and the car was extremely difficult to drive. It went sideways almost in every corner and at the end of the race the lap times were getting worse and worse.”
With his two number five positions VeeKay scored enough points to take over the second position in the championship after five rounds from his teammate. But the gap to the leader increased to 46 points.
The next race on VeeKay’s calendar is next week when he heads to Europe to take part in a race of the BOSS GP Championship. This category for Formula 1, GP2 and Indycars from a few years ago has a race at the famous Italian Monza Grand Prix track.