With 13 victories in 14 races, Julian van der Watt was able to win the South African F1600 Championship last season. The success has allotted him the opportunity to move up to the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
The Team Pelfrey driver took some time recently to answer some questions for Popular Open Wheel.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: What are your thoughts entering the year?
JULIAN VAN DER WATT: I’m very excited entering the year with a top team such as Team Pelfrey. I look forward to having a good year gaining experience and fighting for the podium. It’s a big change coming from South Africa to the USA, but I am up for the challenge and very excited for the season to start!
POW: You’ve gotten some time behind the wheel of the USF-17 in pre-season testing. What’s been your biggest takeaway so far?
JULIAN: Learning how to drive a car with downforce consistently as well as being part of the team and integrating myself into the team was the biggest takeaway from testing.
POW: What are your goals and expectations for this season?
JULIAN: I would like to be fighting for the top of the podium every race weekend and I believe with Pelfrey behind me we have the potential to be challenging for a championship victory. I also want to be consistent in my performances each weekend.
POW: What track are you most looking forward to?
JULIAN: I’m looking forward to racing at Indianapolis as I have never raced on an oval, so that will be a big learning experience.
POW: How did you get started in racing?
JULIAN: I started karting when I was 11-years-old in a class called GP Junior. I progressed to the Rotax Junior Max and won several championships. At the age of 18, I moved to Formula 1600 and I was second in the championship in my first and second year in Formula 1600, and I won the South African Championship in my third year in 2017.
POW: What’s been the most memorable moment of your racing career to date?
JULIAN: My most memorable moment was when I test drove the 2009 Ferrari powered A1GP car for Afrix Motorsport. It has the chassis of the 2004 Ferrari F1 with a Ferrari V8, so it was the closest car I’ve ever driven to an Indy or F1 car. The speed and downforce of the car was unbelievable. It was an experience I will never forget.
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