Rinus VeeKay claims Pro Mazda title in commanding style in Portland
KNAF Talent First car racing talent Rinus VeeKay claimed the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in commanding style at Portland International Raceway. The 17-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands secured the title in the first race of the weekend by finishing in second position, and went on to claim the second position in race two as well. Being only 17 years of age, VeeKay is the youngest Pro Mazda champion in history and the Dutch driver won seven out of the sixteen races this season. “I’m really proud and also extremely happy with this title and my next step to the Indy Lights,” said the newly-crowned champion.
Round nine at Portland International Raceway was the grand finale of the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. After winning the last five races of the championship, KNAF Talent First car racing talent Rinus VeeKay had created a comfortable lead in the title race and he only had to finish in eighth position in one of the two final races of the season to secure the championship. The 17-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands made his intentions loud and clear in qualifying by claiming a convincing pole position for both races.
The start of race number one was not what VeeKay had hoped for and the young Dutchman lost one position when he was out-dragged by the second-place qualifier on the front row of the grid. “I thought I went too early and lifted. That’s the moment I lost one position,” said VeeKay. But the Juncos Racing driver remained in the slipstream of the leader and reset the Pro Mazda track record, to finish in second position, more than enough to secure the 2018 Pro Mazda title with one race still remaining. It’s a great achievement of the young Dutch driver as it’s only his second year in motorsport following his runner-up finish in the USF2000 championship in his maiden season last year. By claiming the title VeeKay also won the Mazda Scholarship prize worth USD 790,300 to progress into the next category of the Mazda Road to Indy, the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, a free test in the Indy Lights, worth USD 20,000, and USD 7,500 as VeeKay also claimed the rookie title. “I’m really proud and extremely happy with this title and the Mazda Scholarship. I’m really looking forward to being successful in the Indy Lights category next year,” said an extremely happy VeeKay.
Starting from pole position, VeeKay wanted to finish the season on a high with a victory in the last race of the season. But on the wide and long straight to the first corner, the Juncos Racing driver was out-dragged again from the slipstream. VeeKay kept in touch with the driver in the number one position, until a lapped driver didn’t give way and remained between him and the leader. This caused a lack in downforce and made the temperature of the car to rise, thus VeeKay could not overtake the lapped driver and even had to defend his second position. When the lapped driver was finally gone, the gap to the leader was too big to go for another win and the second position was the best possible result for the newly-crowned champion. But with two runner-up finishes the KTF driver’s dream season came to a great end. VeeKay won seven out of the sixteen races this season and claimed the championship with a 67 point advantage over the number two in the championship standings.
This season, Rinus VeeKay is supported by Jumbo, La Place and the Dutch KNAF Talent First program.