Kyffin Simpson added yet more silverware to his successful 2021 season at the star-studded Road America REV Group GP, impressing IndyCar fans and Road To Indy competitors alike with a spirited drive from 8th on the grid to 3rd in Sunday’s Race 2.
Bouncing back from an unavoidable crash in Race 1, Simpson secured his second podium in Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, rewarding team Juncos Racing for their efforts to rebuild the car.
The weekend’s action began with two 30-minute qualifying sessions across Friday and Saturday, setting the grid for two 15-lap sprints around the famous 4-mile Road America circuit. A fast, tight and bumpy ‘old school’ racing venue, Road America punishes the car just as much as the driver, and Kyffin experienced this first-hand as both of his qualifying sessions were affected by handling issues.
Despite showcasing front-running pace on old tires, Kyffin logged the 8th fastest lap in both sessions as he switched to new rubber, meaning he would start on the outside of the fourth row in both races.
Round 9 of the Indy Pro series began on Saturday at 12:10pm. and Simpson reacted quickly as the green flag waved, gaining a position through the opening two turns. As the field exited turn three, the red machine of Jack Miller was positioned directly ahead as Rasmussen, ahead of Miller, was pushed wide onto the grass.
As Rasmussen’s car spun around, Miller’s had nowhere to go and was launched into the air in a frightening accident, landing upside down further into the grass. Travelling 85mph at the time, Kyffin was barely six feet behind Miller and was unable to avoid joining the crash, ending the #21 car’s Race 1.
After a precautionary check-up in the trackside medical center, Kyffin returned to the Juncos Racing pit wall just in time to thank them for their efforts and celebrate a win for teammate Manuel Sulaimen, demonstrating the 16-year-old’s team spirit.
Eager to make up for lost ground, Kyffin approached Sunday’s Round 10 with renewed determination as he started from 8th once again, and was duly rewarded with arguably his best Indy Pro 2000 race performance to date.
Charging from the fourth row, Kyffin passed three cars in the opening laps to settle in behind teammate Manuel Sulaimen, setting the fastest lap before the first caution period neutralised the race. This would prove to set the tone for the remainder, as contact between cars further behind brought the yellows out once again.
On the second restart, Kyffin got the jump on Sulaimen ahead and dived to the inside at Turn 3 to secure third place. Approaching Turn 5 a few laps later, contact between leading cars brought out the third and final caution with Simpson placed behind Rasmussen and teammate Reece Gold.
As the green flag waved for the final sprint to the flag, Simpson relentlessly pressured teammate Gold as leader Rasmussen built a gap ahead, but the #55 proved too difficult to overcome due to the aerodynamic effects of following another car around the 4-mile circuit.
Kyffin crossed the line third to secure his second Indy Pro 2000 podium of the year, and Juncos Racing’s second podium finish at Road America that weekend.
Reflecting on a successful yet frustrating experience, Kyffin said:
“We had a great weekend in Road America and I really enjoyed learning the track in a different car. Qualifying didn’t exactly go to plan, but we knew we’d have the pace on old tires to make our way to the front.
We had some bad luck in the first race getting collected in an unavoidable crash, but we came back better and made it to a podium finish in the second race. I am glad that I could get another trophy before heading to Mid-Ohio to carry momentum into FR Americas.”
With 10 of 18 rounds complete in Indy Pro 2000, Kyffin improves to 8th in the overall standings with 140 points.
Road America was the first of three back-to-back weekend events that see Kyffin travel next to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. June 25-27 brings Rounds 7, 8 and 9 of the FR Americas Championship Powered by Honda.
You can follow and support Kyffin’s progress on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Kyffin is supported by Simpson Race Products, GoPro action cameras, Spy sunglasses, DART, BODDENS and Kokoro Performance driver coaching services.