Released to the press this morning, championship-winning team Juncos Racing has signed 2017 USF2000 runner-up Rinus VeeKay (also known as Rinus van Kalmthout) to compete in the 2018 Pro Mazda season.
VeeKay, 17, joins Juncos after a successful test at Mid-Ohio in October as well as an impressive showing at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Indianapolis. The Netherlands native captured three victories in the Mazda Road to Indy’s lower ladder as well as 12 podium finishes overall. Formerly with Pabst Racing, VeeKay tested with Belardi Auto Racing in an Indy Lights machine at the Chris Griffis event and found seat time in Pabst’s PM-18 chassis, making him the only driver in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder that has driven each of the current cars.
“I feel very honored that I can join such a successful team,” said VeeKay. “They have a very professional attitude and the cooperation during the test was excellent from the very first moment.” The Dutch ace also made note of Juncos’ expansive new headquarters in Indianapolis following a recent visit. “They have state-of-the-art facilities, and everything looks clean like a Formula One operation, which impressed me.”
Continuing a partnership linked to a successful 2017 campaign, Jumbo Supermarkten will continue to support VeeKay in his rise through the ladder system. The supermarket chain joins KNAF Talent First, the Netherland’s official driver development program, as official sponsors of the 17-year-old. Certainly pleased by the financial backing as well as securing a top prospect in the Mazda Road to Indy, Ricardo Juncos continues to build an impressive network of talented drivers.
“I am thrilled to announce Rinus is joining Juncos Racing for the 2018 Pro Mazda season,” remarked Juncos. “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.”
VeeKay is the Netherlands’ newest open-wheel hot shoe, mentored by fellow countryman and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk. The “Flying Dutchman” stated at the Chris Griffis test that VeeKay has a long and exciting career ahead of him. “I think he’s going to go very far,” said Luyendyk, the Indianapolis 500’s fastest qualifier. “It really is a lot of fun to watch him.”
Heeding to the advice of Luyendyk, VeeKay chose to compete in the Pro Mazda championship despite some Indy Lights speculation following an impressive testing appearance at Indy. “Arie recommended that I move up to Pro Mazda for 2018 instead of Indy Lights,” VeeKay mentioned. “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.”
As we stated previously, look for VeeKay to be a serious contender for the 2018 Pro Mazda crown and possibly even a couple opportunities in an Indy Lights car. He is a budding star and the ladder series is fortunate to have the Dutchman on the right path to the Verizon IndyCar Series.