A1 Team Netherlands has admitted that it is looking forward to starting the fourth year of the 'World Cup of Motorsport' on home soil at Circuit Park Zandvoort after weeks of solid preparation.
One of the few teams to have confirmed its presence on the North Sea coast this weekend, the Dutch team is filled with both confidence and ambition after successfully testing its new Ferrari-built and powered car at Donington Park, and naming a strong driving partnership of A1GP regular Jeroen Bleekemolen and ex-F1 pilot Robert Doornbos.
The opening weekend will see Bleekemolen once more behind the wheel, determined to make a strong start on a circuit he knows by heart. Last year, the former touring car ace finished on the podium in the sprint race while, in 2006, having been thrown in at the deep end by Jos Verstappen's late withdrawal, he sent more than 120,000 spectators crazy with excitement as he carved through the field in tricky conditions.
“I think back to the last A1GP races at Zandvoort with a lot of great memories," the 26-year old admitted, "For a Dutch driver, this is certainly one of the most beautiful races to drive, with everyone dressed in orange and going crazy.
"Being in at the start with the Ferrari makes it even more memorable. I have tested for a couple of days and feel at home in the car. At Zandvoort, the lap times will be dropping a lot with the huge amount of downforce this car generates, and I am very positive about our chances. The team was the first to finish the car and they have adapted to each other well. Now I will do everything I can to give the Dutch audience a great weekend!”
Although several leading teams, including the race-winning British squad, will be missing from Zandvoort owing to supply problems, the Dutch are not expecting anything less than a weekend of hard work. Two official practice sessions on Saturday morning will be followed by the qualifying sessions in the afternoon, with the sprint - now with a mandatory pit-stop - taking place on Sunday morning. The feature race, with two
mandatory stops, will run in the afternoon.
“We are fortunate to be able to kick off at Zandvoort yet again, as the first two editions were absolute hits, with record-breaking spectator numbers," seatholder Jan Lammers acknowledged, "Ticket sales are again going very well and I am sure that we will not disappoint our fans.
"We have got ace drivers with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Robert Doornbos and both of them are in the winning mood this year. Our competition thinks that we have got a good shot at it this year, and these expectations strengthen us. We would love to capitalise on this.”