HOOFDDORP, NETHERLANDS (Nov. 28, 2017) –Rinus van Kalmthout (Rinus VeeKay), 2017 USF2000 Vice-Champion, announced today he has signed with multi-championship winning team Juncos Racing to contest the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. The 17-year-old joins the Indianapolis-based outfit following a successful test outing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last month.
“I feel very honored that I can join such a successful team,” noted the Dutchman. “They have a very professional attitude and the cooperation during the test was excellent from the very first moment; I really felt at home. I was also able to visit the team’s workshop in Indianapolis where they have state-of-the-art facilities, and everything looks tidy and clean like a Formula 1 operation which impressed me.”
The teenager quickly put himself into the Mazda Road to Indy limelight as he charged to three wins and 12 podium finishes in his rookie USF2000 Championship season with Pabst Racing in 2017. His results drew the attention of Ricardo Juncos, owner of Juncos Racing, a three-time Pro Mazda and two-time Indy Lights championship-winning organization.
“I am thrilled to announce Rinus is joining Juncos Racing for the 2018 Pro Mazda season,” Juncos commented. “We first worked with Rinus back in October testing at Mid-Ohio and were very pleased with him all around. He was very fast on track, and had a great professional approach when working with the crew and engineers. Rinus showed he will be a top contender on track and he is going to be an incredible asset to our Pro Mazda lineup this coming year. I want to thank Rinus and his family for the opportunity to add him to our program and look forward to a great year as we compete for another championship.”
For the 2018 season, VeeKay will again be supported by Jumbo Supermarkten, the most significant supermarket chain in the Netherlands, as well as KNAF Talent First, Holland’s official young driver development program.
“We are very happy with this important next step in Rinus’ career,” noted Maarten van Wesenbeeck of KNAF Talent First. “During the 2017 season he proved to be extremely quick in the USF2000 Championship as well as every other car he set foot in. He adapts easily and is in great shape. We have high expectations for next season.”
The youngster is also mentored by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk, the input of which he takes very seriously.
“Arie recommended that I move up to Pro Mazda for 2018 instead of Indy Lights,” said VeeKay. “Gathering more experience on the second level of the Mazda Road to Indy will be a big help to my career and my goal for next year is clear and simple: win the Pro Mazda Championship.”
The 2018 Pro Mazda Championship will see a brand new Tatuus PM-18 racecar with a whopping 275 horsepower produced from its two-liter Mazda engine. The new racecar has seen Pro Mazda lap times drop by as much as five seconds on road courses. The season kicks off with a doubleheader weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 9 – 11 and overall will include a total of 16 races on street courses, road courses and ovals.