Race day in Beijing proved to be one of mixed emotions for A1 Team Netherlands as Jeroen Bleekemolen secured a first win of the season in the sprint race but then spun out of the lead of the feature.

Bleekemolen secured pole for the sprint race after pacing the shortened practice session on Saturday and, true to his word, was able to lead from the front as he took victory in the sprint race - making a perfect restart after a lengthy Safety Car period to fend of Mexican Salvador Duran.

In the feature race, Bleekemolen made another good start to the race and had opened up a strong lead before making his mandatory pitstop. Despite numerous Safety Car periods, the Dutch driver maintained his lead once everyone had stopped but with just ten minutes to go, Bleekemolen spun off into the tyres and was forced to retire.

"We should have won this race," he said afterwards. "When I braked into turn four my foot slipped off the brake pedal. The car spun across a bump into the tyrewall. I was not able to correct the car anymore. This is just very disappointing. I wanted to push for a few more laps and then just finish it. Winning this race would have meant leading the Series.

"Winning the Sprint race was really great, but at the moment that's only a small consolation for me. We were able to pull away straight away at the start. That was our objective and after that I was able to control things, really perfect. The safety car was a help on one hand, but on the other it was not. I had just made a gap and now I had to create that all over again. In the first lap after the safety car I just pushed real hard, and then I was able to pull away again. That worked perfectly."

Team principal Jan Lammers admitted that it would take time to get over the disappointment of missing out on a perfect weekend, but consoled himself in the continued pace displayed by his driver.

"We were on our way to a perfect weekend," he said. "Everyone in the team was completely and very motivated. We did one of the fastest pitstops, if not the fastest and then you end up with this. This is going to hurt for a long time. There is only one solution and that's doing this all over again, but finishing it off.

"The Sprint race was great of course. We have won a race and got the sweet taste of being on the podium. But of course we were here for the feature race. So, the bad news is clear, the good news is that we won a race and could already have won three in total. We will just have to hold on to that and take that into our minds to the next race where we will have to capitalise on it as well."

 

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