Team Netherlands is protesting its disqualification from fifth place in last weekend's Indonesian feature race, with the squad claiming a grey area in the regulations leaves confusion over pit-stop rules and demanding clarification ahead of future meetings.

Jeroen Bleekemolen charged from 13th on the grid following a difficult sprint race, in which the former DTM and FIA GT star collided with Team Malaysia's Alex Yoong on the opening tour and spent the remaining 14 laps trying to make up lost ground. Then on a wet but drying surface in the main feature event, Bleekemolen timed the changeover to slick tyres to perfection to work his way up through the order as drama reigned all around the bright orange Dutch machine. But the drama did not end once the chequered flag had dropped.

"We had the right strategy," the 25-year-old confirmed. "I saw that the track was getting more and more dry very quickly, so I asked if we could switch to slicks because I knew that we could gain a lot. Unfortunately we did not have the speed to overtake more people.

"The start of the feature race was similar to Malaysia - you couldn't see anything. In the beginning I got held up quite a lot by Italy and Canada, but when I had a clear track it went quite well."

Then the news filtered through that the Dutch entry had been removed from the results. According to the series stewards the team took their mandatory pit-stop one lap too late and had thus breached article 219 of the sporting regulations. This article states that the pit-stop must take place after the completion of lap eight and before the completion of lap 20 on the track.

"We waited to the last possible moment with our mandatory pit-stop to maximise on the weather conditions," explained team principal Jan Lammers. "This worked out perfectly and we were the first to go out on slicks. That brought us in reach of the podium - a super job from our guys!

"To our astonishment we were then excluded after the race by the stewards. They concluded we had breached the regulations as we allegedly had not made our pit-stop before the completion of our 20th lap.

"Our difference of opinion is we feel the regulations state we have to make a pit-stop before the completion of lap 20 on the track. We completed our 20th lap in the pit lane. The definition of pit lane according to the regulations is: 'The lane by which the cars can access the pits and access and exit the track'.

"Our conclusion is that it is impossible to enter the pit lane without exciting the track and therefore we did not complete our 20th lap on the track but in the pit lane. Our lap time on lap 20 also shows the lap was completed partly on track and partly in the pit lane.

"We will try to convince the organisation again that we acted in good faith and according to the regulations. It will take some time before everyone has agreed on this issue, but it is my duty to fight this decision. I am sure there will be a supplement to the regulations, but we do not want to pay the price for this learning process and want our fifth place finish reinstated."

 

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