Rinus VeeKay impresses with double victory in Pro Mazda debut in St. Petersburg
With two spectacular victories on the streets of St. Petersburg, KNAF Talent First car racing talent Rinus VeeKay has made an impressive debut in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. In the first race the 17-year-old driver from Hoofddorp in the Netherlands stormed to the front after starting from eighth position to claim the number one spot on the podium. In the second race VeeKay dominated the race by starting from pole position, to lead from start to finish to score a double victory. “What a great weekend, absolutely fantastic,” said VeeKay, still enjoying his two wins.
After his impressive maiden racing season where he claimed the title of vice champion in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, KNAF Talent First car racing talent Rinus VeeKay has the next category of the Mazda Road to Indy, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, on the agenda this season. But VeeKay had some major setbacks in his preparations for his debut season in Pro Mazda. After a successful private test with his team Juncos Racing, the young Dutchman was only able to complete a few laps in the two official test weekends of the series as there were some major problems with the engine of his Tatuus PM-18.
But VeeKay never lost faith and focused on a good result in the opening round of the series on the streets of St. Petersburg. In qualifying number one there was another problem with the ECU of the engine, and the KTF driver couldn’t do better than eighth position. In the second qualifying VeeKay bounced back with an impressive pole position with a margin of over 0.3 seconds to the number two qualifier.
In the first race of the weekend, where VeeKay had to start from eighth position, the Juncos Racing driver stormed to the front of the field with some spectacular overtaking maneuvers to claim an impressive victory. VeeKay choose the right line into the first corner, avoided the chaos in front of him and was in third position after one lap. After a restart from behind the safety car, VeeKay made a great maneuver through the outside line of the first corner to claim the second position, to take the lead after the second restart with an even more impressive overtaking maneuver. In the last seven laps of the race VeeKay remained in front and claimed the victory in his debut race in the opening round of the Pro Mazda season.
Starting from pole position, VeeKay had an almost perfect start in race number two and once again led the field. With a margin of one second to the driver in second position and only five minutes left, the safety car came out and the Juncos Racing driver’s advantage was gone. With another perfect start from behind the safety car VeeKay once again created a gap, never looked back in the last two laps and took his second win of the weekend. With two wins out of two races, the KTF driver is the proud number one in the Pro Mazda Championship after the first round in St. Petersburg.
“Absolutely unbelievable, what a great weekend, also for the team. The cooperation with my team Juncos Racing is really great and the adjustments we did to the setup of the car worked out perfectly. The first race was thrilling and great, and I could manage the situation in race number two. I knew that when I had a good exit speed out of the corners, the top speed on the straights was enough to keep the number two behind me. I’m already looking forward to the next round,” said an extremely happy VeeKay after his successful debut weekend.
Arie Luyendyk, VeeKay’s mentor and also at the track in St. Petersburg, was impressed by the KTF driver’s performance. “Really great to see this. After all the problems he had before this weekend and then perform like this. He had some great overtaking maneuvers in the first race and knew how to deal with the gap he created. Rinus is a great talent, as a driver but also as a person. He is dedicated, has the right mind set and does everything he can to perform to the max.”
This season, Rinus VeeKay is supported by Jumbo, La Place and the Dutch KNAF Talent First program.