Van der Watt on the pace at St. Pete
South Africa’s Julian van der Watt enjoyed a positive start to his US Formula 2000 road to Indy campaign at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Miami, US over the weekend. Camps Bay Cape Town’s reigning South African Formula 1600 champion qualified a respectable 11th in his first-ever street race before driving up to a fine fifth in race 1. He started Sunday’s second race sixth on the grid before racing to 11th, to leave Miami a competitive eighth in the championship standings.
“That was a great first race for me at the Firestone GP of St Petersburg,” Julian explained. “The team did an incredible job with my RDSA Crossley & Webb Tatuus-Mazda — we did not show our colours in qualifying, but we did in the race, coming from 11th on the grid to end up fifth. “Race 2 was a little more difficult, I was on the third row at the start and we were in the points again in 11th, so we move on to the next round on the old Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit in a handy eighth in the championship.
“It was my first time on street circuit with those walls right around the edge of the circuit, never mind that this is a hugely competitive series — there were six different drivers and six different teams on the six podium positions this weekend, so it promises to be a thrilling season. “I am really happy to have brought it home and scored well for Team Pelfrey in both races on my series debut.
“A huge thanks to the team for the help and support and to all the South African support over the weekend on social media — that means so much to me. And of course a special word of thanks to my SA backers, RDSA and Crossley & Webb.” The USF2000 champion takes the next step in the Mazda Road to Indy with a R5-million Mazda Scholarship up to the next step on the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires in 2019.
The second round of the USF2000 championship is at the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit 10-12 May 2018.