Indianapolis, 27 May 2016
On the eve of a celebrational 100th Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, multiple karting champion Rinus van Kalmthout has announced the next move in his racing career. In 2017, the KNAF Talent First driver will compete in the brand new USF2000, the first stage on the Mazda Road to Indy. This program includes four stages that guide talented young drivers all the way up to the Indycar Series, which besides Formula 1 is the pinnacle of international motor racing. Van Kalmthout will be the first karter to be promoted from the Rotax US Open to the Mazda Road to Indy. That he chooses this path as a European is all the more remarkable.
In 2016, Van Kalmthout decided to remain in karting for one more season, allowing him the time to take a well-considered decision on his next move in racing. Besides his karting program the 15-year-old took the opportunity to sample a variety of formula cars. Driving a Formula Renault 1.6 and a Formula 4 car, he immediately showed that he was on the pace with the quickest drivers.
Last October, during the Rotax US Open Las Vegas round, Van Kalmthout’s talent was spotted by the Mazda Road to Indy organisation. This led to an invitation for a USF2000 test. On Austin’s F1 circuit, the Hoofddorp resident was given a two-day test in this quick single-seater, along with 14 other talented drivers. Van Kalmthout set a third best time, a performance that was duly noted since most of the other drivers present had previous single-seater experience whereas Van Kalmthout drove his very first miles in a formula car at Austin.
Michelle Kish, Mazda Road to Indy COO, was unable to hide her enthousiasm and immediately wanted to sign up the Dutchman for her program. “Rinus is precisely the type of driver that we are looking for. I’ve been doing this for 20 years now, and what Rinus showed is truly impressive. He has everything to go very far on our Mazda Road to Indy. We are also pleased that a European driver has committed to our 2017 program.”
Next year will see the introduction of a new USF2000 formula car developed by renowned Italian chassis manufacturer Tatuus. The FIA-approved chassis will be powered by a 2-litre Mazda engine. Remarkably, the chassis can be easily upgraded to Pro Mazda-spec, which is the next stage on the Mazda Road to Indy. The next two stages are Indy Lights and Van Kalmthout’s ultimate goal, the Indycar Series.
Two-time Indy 500 champion Arie Luyendijk, who is also present at the 100th Indy 500, is quite taken by Van Kalmthout’s decision. “In order to be successful in the US you need to have something special. I believe that Rinus can go very far on the Mazda Road to Indy when given the right support. Who knows, he may be the next Dutchman to win the Indy 500”, said a smiling Luyendijk, who is still revered by the Americans.
As a KNAF Talent First driver, Van Kalmthout has made a remarkable choice by going to America. Maarten van Wesenbeeck, the KNAF Talent First Head of Educations, is delighted about Van Kalmthout’s decision. “Throughout the years, Rinus has showed to be capable of fighting for the title in any championship. I think it’s an interesting choice and expect him to be a front-runner in the US as well.”
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