VeeKay has high hopes after physically tough race at Mid-Ohio
Rinus 'VeeKay' van Kalmthout finished the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by the HPD Ridgeline in 16th place. The 20-year old Dutchman returned from his absence caused by a collarbone fracture.
Nineteen days after his serious cycling accident, VeeKay was allowed back to take part in an NTT IndyCar Series race. For round 10 of the 2021 season, the series set up camp at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, a track where VeeKay has found success in the past, the young Dutchman for instance winning both Indy Pro 2000 races in 2018.
After a somewhat disappointing qualifying session in which VeeKay was baulked on his fastest lap, the #21 SONAX Chevrolet driver was able to start from 11th. The opening stages of the 80-lap race in Ohio proved to be chaotic, with several drivers clashing, but VeeKay capably steered his Ed Carpenter Racing car clear of his spinning and crashing rivals to be an excellent seventh after four laps.
While the first of three stints went well for VeeKay – using the soft Firestone tyre, the Dutchman was able to keep pace with the frontrunners – the red and black car dropped down the order during the second and third stints, as its strategy proved ineffective during a race that after the messy opening phase went uninterrupted by cautions. VeeKay lost 11th in the closing stages as he briefly ran off track allowing several rival competitors to pass him.
VeeKay, whose HANS system had to be adjusted on Friday night because it was too painful on the collarbone, still managed to finish the physically demanding race in Ohio, the Dutchman ending up in sixteenth place. The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by the HPD Ridgeline was won from pole by Josef Newgarden. VeeKay is now eighth in the standings after ten of sixteen races, having collected 257 points, as Alex Palou leads the championship.
“It was a tough race”, said VeeKay looking back on the race. “Mid-Ohio is a physically tough track and I must confess that I had some pain in my shoulders and neck muscles after the race. The strategy that we chose today failed to work. Races like these happen because in the IndyCar Series the competition doesn't wait for you.”
“During the first stint, we were fine on the soft tyre, but the harder compound didn't work for us today. Shortly after my second pit stop, I experienced a moment of snap oversteer that sent me off track for a while. It was a weekend to learn from. In the coming weeks I will work hard with my trainer Raun to be in perfect physical shape after the summer break. I am already looking forward to the race on the Nashville street circuit!”
The NTT IndyCar Series is coming to a summer break, with no racing for the next five weeks. The next showdown is the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the Nashville Street Circuit, which takes place on Sunday, August 8.