Monterey Rinus ‘VeeKay’ van Kalmthout finished the penultimate race of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series in 18th place. The 21-year-old former Hofdorber fought like a lion during the Firestone Grand Prix in Monterey, but again no luck.
Returning to the NTT INDYCAR Series calendar in 2019, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca proved not a good match for the Ed Carpenter Racing team. While Rinus VeeKay, now active for ECR, booked two victories in the Indy Lights, the predecessors of the Dutch driver ECR had a particularly tough time on the legendary California asphalt strip.
Also in 2021, the famous Laguna Seca circuit was Ed Carpenter Racing’s Achilles heel. In both training and qualifying, the team struggled to connect with the pinnacle of the competitive IndyCar field. Partly due to a gas supply problem, VeeKay had to settle for 24th on the grid, and teammate Conor Daly started from 18th.
During the Firestone Grand Prix in Monterey, the 95-lap maintenance was scheduled to be the penultimate game of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series, and VeeKay and Ed Carpenter Racing chose an offensive strategy. The 2020 season ‘Rookie of the Year’ replaced his Firestone hard compound early in the race with a set of soft tyres, allowing him to move on.
Rinus VEEKAY PR / Ed Carpenter Racing
VeeKay showed his known bravery and gogme racing during his fourth stint, when the soft tires were replaced with a hard compound. The young Dutchman made his way into the middle arc thanks to ten very tight laps. Finishing in the top ten seemed out of the question, but a place close to the back proved to be an option thanks to VeeKay’s steering skills.
As if the devil was playing with it, VeeKay once again had to deal with misfortune. Where the ECR driver has had to deal with many disappointments in previous races, he had to sit down on Sunday afternoon (local time) as a contact error threw a wrench in the works. VeeKay thought he was expected to be inside by radio traffic to stop in the hole on lap 66, but that turned out to be a misunderstanding. Ed Carpenter Racing mechanisms were actually signaled to assist the VeeKay on lap 71.
Turns out, VeeKay’s hard work on his previous assignments was for nothing. The Dutchman lost quite a few places and had to settle for 18th place when the finish flag fell. Colton Herta won the Firestone Grand Prix for Monterey at Weathertech Raceway in Laguna Seca.
“Small details, big consequences,” said Vicki from the US. “I headed into the pit lane without the team being aware of it. I heard a certain secret text over the radio on the board where I thought it was my turn. Turns out that wasn’t the case. I could have checked it,” this Dutchman is aware of his lot.
“We already knew Laguna Seca was not going to be an easy weekend for us. In qualifying on Saturday, to make matters worse the accelerator stumbled. From 24th place it was always tough, but we went for it today. After a short first we decided to go for a four. Stops. It worked, because I was fighting for 11th after three stops.”
VeeKay sighs, “Unfortunately, I followed the pit stop, which turned out not to be a pit stop.” It’s tough to deal with a lot of adversity, but I’m confident Ed Carpenter Racing can deliver a great finish to next season’s finale this weekend. We are going for a full one hundred percent again, at least to finish this season with a good score,” VeeKay concludes combatively.
With its 18th place finish, VeeKay won a place in the average rating. With one match remaining, the young Dutchman is in eleventh place, having already collected 303 points. Tenth-placed Alexander Rossi, who led the race more than Vichai, has just one point. Thus, the top ten position of VeeKay can still be reached.
The 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series will conclude next Sunday, September 26th. On the streets of Long Beach, California, the Acura Grand Prix in Long Beach is on the program. The race will start around 9:30 PM Dutch time.
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