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Netherlands on pole at Zandvoort.

Jeroen Bleekemolen gave the Dutch fans reason to cheer after securing pole position for Team Netherlands for the opening round of the 2008/09 A1GP season at Zandvoort.

In a disjointed session hit by three red flag stoppages, Bleekemolen came home three-tenths of a second clear of impressive youngster Earl Bamber who put New Zealand on the front row of the grid.

Bleekemolen's pole lap came with just 13 minutes of the hour long session remaining, with the series electing to alter its qualifying format to a single hour-long session for the opening race due to the lack of time afforded to the teams after delays in the build of the new Powered by Ferrari car.

It also came between the second and third red flags of the session and despite the best efforts of Ireland's Adam Carroll and Frenchman Loic Duval, no-one was able to get ahead of Bleekemolen in the final minutes of the session.

The first red flag came when Korean driver Jin Woo Hwang, who endured numerous spins during practice, suffered a spin into the wall and damaged the front suspension on his car, while the second stoppage came when the Indonesian car of Satrio Hermanto ground to a halt on the entry to the final corner. Amazingly, a recovery vehicle crossed the circuit before the red flags flew, although luckily no cars were approaching the scene at the time.

The final stoppage came when John Martin – who had already damaged the Team Australia entry in practice when he went off – suffered another spin and nosed into the barrier, which left only a matter of minutes for teams to try and topple Bleekemolen from the top of the pile.

Carroll, who had been the man to beat earlier in the session, did his best but his final lap of the session was only good enough for third place, while Duval – who also looked quick in the French car, ruined his chance when he ran wide across the gravel; leaving him down outside the top ten as a result.

Carroll will be joined on row two by the impressive Fairuz Fauzy, while there was also a solid debut for Team Monaco, with seat holder Clivio Piccione posting the fifth quickest time. Piccione was the final driver to be within a second of pole position.

Despite the fact he hadn't set foot in the car prior to practice, Neel Jani rounded out the top six for defending champions Switzerland with Adrian Zaugg for South Africa and Fabio Onidi for Italy completing the top eight.

Charlie Kimball took ninth for the USA with Daniel Morad rounding out the top ten for Lebanon.

As well as the French entry, qualifying also saw Portugal on track for the first time with Filipe Albuquerque posting the 13th fastest time from a limited number of laps – albeit over seven seconds off the pace – but neither Brazil or China were ready to hit the track and Felipe Guimares and Ho Pin Tung both watched proceedings from pit lane.


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jeroen Bleekemolen - A1 Team Netherlands [Pic credit: A1GP]
A1 Team Netherlands star Jeroen Bleekemolen at the annual Rizla Racing Day
A1 Team Netherlands star Jeroen Bleekemolen in action at the annual Rizla Racing Day
A1GP grid girls add a touch of glamour at Zandvoort in the Netherlands [pic credit: A1GP Media]
A1GP grid girls add a touch of glamour at Zandvoort in the Netherlands [pic credit: A1GP Media]
Jeroen Bleekemolen - A1 Team Netherlands [Pic credit: A1GP]
Robert Doornbos in action in the Algarve [Pic credit: A1GP]
Felipe Guimaraes during qualifying in Portugal [Pic credit: A1GP]
Nicolas Prost during qualifying in the Algarve [Pic credit: A1GP]
Tonio Liuzzi during qualifying in Portugal [Pic credit: A1GP]
Robert Doornbos on track in Portugal [Pic credit: A1GP]
Robert Doornbos takes pole in the Algarve [Pic credit: A1GP]
Robert Doornbos during practice in the Algarve [Pic credit: A1GP]
Jeroen Bleekemolen - A1 Team Netherlands [Pic credit: A1GP]
Jeroen Bleekemolen - A1 Team Netherlands [Pic credit: A1GP]
Jeroen Bleekemolen - A1 Team Netherlands [Pic credit: A1GP]
Denis Retera - A1 Team Netherlands [Pic credit: A1GP]
Denis Retera - A1 Team Netherlands [Pic credit: A1GP]

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