Photo: CoForce Public Relations

MRTI: Rinus VeeKay steps up to Pro Mazda with Juncos

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Rinus VeeKay will move up to the second rung of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder in 2018. The talented Dutch teenager will race with Juncos Racing in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, a year after coming second in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda to Oliver Askew.

VeeKay will run for the team that fielded the Pro Mazda champion this year, Victor Franzoni, and will be able to continue his battle with Askew for a second straight year in a second straight series.

Juncos’ release is below.

Juncos Racing announced today the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda championship runner-up, Rinus VeeKay will join the team for the 2018 Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires championship. VeeKay is the first driver to join the reigning 2017 Pro Mazda champion team.

Rinus VeeKay, 17, of Hoofddorp, Netherlands recently completed a very successful run in the USF2000 championship, picking up one pole, three wins and 12 podiums within 14 races in his rookie season. VeeKay’s most notable weekend during the 2017 year came at Road America where he captured his first pole and swept the weekend taking both wins. VeeKay finished the season second in the championship, only seven points behind the champion.

Photo: CoForce Public Relations

“I feel very honored that I am able to join such a successful top team,” said VeeKay. “They have a very professional attitude and the connection we had during the test was excellent from the very first moment. I really felt at home with the team. When I visited Juncos Racing I was thrilled with their state-of-the-art facility. Everything was very clean and organized, just like a Formula 1 operation.”

VeeKay made his first run with Juncos Racing back in October during a two-day test in the new PM-18 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Team Owner Ricardo Juncos is confident the young 17 year old is a strong figure for the 2018 Juncos Racing Pro Mazda driver line-up.

“I am thrilled to announce Rinus (VeeKay) is joining Juncos Racing for the 2018 Pro Mazda season,” said 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. Rinus showed he will be a top contender on track and he is going to be an incredible asset to our Pro Mazda line-up 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 go for another championship!”

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”