Home Featured Rinus VeeKay takes first win for new Pro Mazda car on championship debut

Rinus VeeKay takes first win for new Pro Mazda car on championship debut

by Ida Wood

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Rinus VeeKay took his and the new Tatuus PM-18 Pro Mazda car’s first win at St. Petersburg as both made their race debuts in the championship.

VeeKay started in eighth in his Juncos Racing car, with 2017 USF2000 title rival and Mazda scholarship winner Oliver Askew taking pole for Cape Motorsports.

Askew’s start was compromised by a late-breaking manouvre by Harrison Scott from third going into Turn 1, which also led to VeeKay’s team-mate Carlos Cunha taking avoiding action.

Front row starter Parker Thompson took the lead as a result, with Juncos pair Robert Megennis and VeeKay moving into second and third. Askew and Cunha dropped to the bottom half of the top 10, with RP Motorsport driver Scott faring worst and sinking to the back.

Thompson pulled out a lead at the front of the field after an early safety car, caused by a clash between Cunha and Rafael Martins, while VeeKay moved past team-mate Megennis to take second.

While Thompson extended his lead and set fastest lap multiple times, VeeKay preoccupied himself with keeping Megennis, Sting Ray Robb and Askew behind him.

A crash by James Raven on lap 14 led to another safety car though, and VeeKay wasted little time before snatching the lead.

The Dutch driver, who will test Euroformula Open machinery later this month, quickly established a 1.5 second lead, but that was reduced to just over three tenths by the chequered flag.

Megennis finished third to make it a Juncos one-three, while Thompson’s second place was a good return for both his and Exclusive Autosport’s first race in Pro Mazda.

Cunha recovered to fourth, ahead of Askew, with Robb dropping to sixth but gaining an extra point after beating Thompson’s fastest lap.

David Malukas finished seventh for BN Racing, ahead of Cape’s Nikita Lastochkin, Scott and his RP team-mate and fellow European convert Lodovico Laurini.

Race results (25 laps)
1 Rinus VeeKay Juncos Racing 34m16.104s
2 Parker Thompson Exclusive Autosport +0.3309s
3 Robert Megennis Juncos Racing +2.3305s
4 Carlos Cunha Juncos Racing +2.9675s
5 Oliver Askew Cape Motorsports +3.6154s
6 Sting Ray Robb Team Pelfrey +4.0101s
7 David Malukas BN Racing +5.1743s
8 Nikita Lastochkin Cape Motorsports +6.9373
9 Harrison Scott RP Motorsport +7.4872s
10 Lodovico Laurini RP Motorsport +12.6347s
11 Antonio Serravalle Exclusive Autosport +15.9270s
12 Kris Wright BN Racing +1 lap
13 Charles Finelli BN Racing +1 lap
Ret Andres Gutierrez Team Pelfrey
Ret James Raven DEForce Racing
Ret Rafael Martins Team Pelfrey
Fastest Lap: Robb, 1m08.514s

Championship Standings
1 VeeKay 30? ?2 Thompson 26? ?3 Megennis 22? ?4 Cunha 19? ?5 Askew 18? ?6 Robb 16? ?7 Malukas 14? ?8 Lastochkin 13? ?9 Scott 12? ?10 Laurini 11