The Dutch entry made a solid start to its A1GP preparations in Sentul this weekend, as both Jeroen Bleekemolen and Renger van der Zande made good progress on their first visit to the demanding track.

In sweltering conditions, van der Zande battled both traffic and yellow flags during the morning rookie session on his way to setting lap times just outside the top ten, while Beijing sprint race-winner Bleekemolen produced a similar performance later on as he familiarized himself with the circuit and chipped away to within seven tenths of a second of pace-setter Team France at the close of the day.

"It went very well," the former DTM and FIA GT star commented after registering the 12th-fastest time. "We have really made a step forward with the car. Almost all the guys who are in front of me already know the track, either from last year or from the rookie test. They can get much more from their tyres.

"When you see what we were capable of at the end, we can be quite pleased. We are quite close. If we can make one more small step we will be competing up at the front this weekend, and I am confident for tomorrow.

"The track itself is quite fun to drive. You do notice that the asphalt is very abrasive and there are a lot of different types of asphalt mixed, which makes it a bit bumpy. There are also a number of fast corners that can be quite challenging."

Van der Zande was equally happy with his showing, as the team concentrates on fine-tuning the 520bhp car ahead of the all-important qualifying shoot-out and races on Saturday and Sunday.

"I think I did a good job today," he remarked. "We really used the session to improve the car further and had some options on the set-up to try. Today I was purely driving for the whole team.

"We were not able to drive a lot of laps but we managed to improve the car quite a bit in the two 25-minute sessions. The team has done a very good job on the working on the car and I think we have created a solid foundation for Jeroen."

Aside from the official A1 Team Netherlands drivers, two other 'Dutch' aces took to the track today. Ho Pin Tung, who also has a Chinese nationality, drove both sessions for Team China, while Chris van der Drift competed for the New Zealand outfit in the rookie session.



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