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Van der Watt impresses on oval debut

Cape Town’s US Formula 2000 driver Julian van der Watt was quick, but out of luck at the weekend’s fifth round US Formula 2000 series race at Indianapolis. Van der Watt enjoyed a positive oval track debut on the kilometre-long Lucas Oil Raceway adjacent to the Brickyard on Friday, before being taken out of a strong top-ten performance in an incident caused by an errant backmarker. 

“This weekend’s Cooper Tires Freedom 75 in Indianapolis was my first oval race,” Julian pointed out. “Overall it was a good weekend — we showed really good pace in qualifying and I started ninth and I was lying tenth in the race, closing on the guys in front when we ran into some lapped cars. “One lapped car tangled with another car running further ahead so then there was a safety car period. 

“The second lapped car ended up two cars in front of me during the safety car period, they can’t un-lap themselves, so at the restart I ended up being boxed in with a car on my left and the lapped car in front of me so I had to lift a little into turn 1 and that’s when another car rode over the rear of mine, bending my rear wing ending our race. “It was a really bitter end to a promising weekend and our first time at an oval — we were going well, there was nothing we could do about it, but it is what is.

“It was quite a challenging weekend overall —  this track is not really banked, the surface isn’t smooth and the car set-up was quite important, so big thanks to my Team Pelfrey for all the hard work they put into the car this weekend and of course my sponsors, Race Driver South Africa, Crossley & Webb, OMP, Arai, MRT, and Cooper Tire. “We move on to Road America next — I can’t wait for that!” The 6km, 14-turn Wisconsin road course hosts rounds 6 and 7 of the Cooper Tire USF2000 championship over the weekend of 22-24 June following a series test at the scenic and sinuous circuit a week prior".