By Steve Wittich
Rinus van Kalmthout (Rinus VeeKay) began his 2019 racing season the way last season ended. By winning a championship.
VeeKay held a solid lead heading into the final event of the F3 Asian Winter Series Championship at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, but like if often does in racing, his title chase went sideways during the first race when VeeKay’s Autotecnica powered Tatuus made contact with a teammate early in the first race of the event.
The unflappable VeeKay was able to finish that race, and a pair of hard-fought podiums in the final races secured his second championship in six-months.
“It was a stressful weekend,” noted VeeKay, who is supported by Jumbo, La Place, and the Dutch KNAF Talent First program. “I now realize that a weekend where the championship has to be decided is totally different from a regular race weekend. But I’m extremely happy with this title. I learned a lot, and it was great to gain some more experience. I would also like to thank Hitech GP for all of their hard work.”
The 18-year-old won four times and stood on the podium in eight of nine F3 Asian Championship Winter Series races to win the championship by a convincing 29 points.
The Dutch driver beat a highly touted group of junior open-wheel drivers including:
- Yi Yifei, who won the 2016 Championnat de France F4 championship and finished third in last year’s Eurocup Formula Renault Series.
- Alessandro Ghiretti, who has previous track experience at the host tracks of Sepang International Circuit (six races) and Buriram International Circuit (3 races) while dominating the Formula 4 South East Asia (SEA) Championship in 2018.
- Red Bull Racing driver Dan Ticktum who is coming off a second-place finish in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.
- The most recent Eurocup Formula Renault Champion Max Fretwell.
- Ralf Schumacher’s son David.
This off-season is the third straight year that VeeKay has contested a winter series. The previous pair of off-seasons had the 10-time Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires contesting the MRF Challenge Series.