South African Investchem Formula 1600 champion Julian van der Watt is ready to race in the United States 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda, starting at St. Petersburg this 10-11 March weekend. Camps Bay, Cape Town driver van der Watt, who dominated the South African championship with 13 wins out of 14 starts last year, earned the drive after impressing Team Pelfrey in an October test and he’s been testing hard since signing for the team earlier in the year.
“I am really excited about racing in the 2018 USF2000 Championship as part of the Road to Indy program,” Julian confirmed. “Team Pelfrey is a leading outfit in the series and I’m looking forward to working hard throughout the year to ensure we are battling for the top step of the podium. “We have walked a pretty long road in preparation on a variety of circuits, culminating at the official Homestead USF2000 test last week, where I was very happy with my pace. “I’m ready to race — let’s do this!”
“We immediately saw why Julian dominated the South African Investchem Formula 1600 Championship on his first outing in a USF2000 car,” Team Pelfrey’s Jonny Baker explained. “Not only was he fast, but his consistency and work ethic were most impressive and Julian’s decision to move to the Mazda Road to Indy is fantastic news for Team Pelfrey and the series. “We look forward to see how Julian gets on through the 2018 season.”
Van der Watt will drive Pelfrey’s yellow number 80 car with backing from Race Driver South Africa and Cape Town supercar emporium Crossley & Webb against rivals from across the globe in the championship that includes a race at Indianapolis before the 500 in May. Among the most successful junior open-wheel teams in the US, Pelfrey has 10 championships, 96 race wins and 206 podiums under its belt. 20-year-old rookie Julian makes his debut at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, where the team secured its first USF2000 victory in 2017