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!”

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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