A1 Team Netherlands ended the second campaign of the nation vs. nation series on a positive note, by clinching fifth position in the final championship standings - a two-place improvement on its maiden season in the formula.

Jeroen Bleekemolen qualified the bright orange machine eighth on the grid for the sprint race in the final meeting at Brands Hatch, and a lightning start that saw him dart past both Switzerland and India through Paddock Hill Bend earned the Dutch entry sixth position at the chequered flag.

The longer feature race looked like turning out even better, as the former DTM and FIA GT ace catapulted off the grid once again into fifth place. A fast pit-stop under the first safety car - which came out following a hefty shunt for Australia - was then undone by a second safety car period almost immediately afterwards. As Bleekemolen attempted an unsuccessful manoeuvre on Italy for third, Narain Karthikeyan in the Indian machine managed to sneak past behind, but fifth was nevertheless enough to hoist the Netherlands up above Malaysia into the same spot in the standings.

"We can be quite pleased with fifth in the championship," the 25-year-old said afterwards. "That is where we belong as far as our pace goes. I am not completely happy, though, as you always compete to win.

"In the latter half of the season we were there quite a number of times; we should certainly have finished on the podium a few times and could have won more races. Fifth is not bad at all, but you always hope for more.

"Fifth in the race at Brands was a shame. Maybe we didn't have the outright pace, but everything went very smoothly. We had a very fast stop but after that there was the strange situation with Italy and the safety car. I tried to overtake and was next to him, but then I was cut off by India which cost me two places. We had two possibilities to finish third and twice it didn't go our way. It was very bad to miss out on the podium again; we have had that quite a bit this season."

Team chief Jan Lammers was also disappointed to have once more lost out on a spot on the rostrum, but remained pleased with the outfit's general performance throughout A1GP's sophomore campaign and confident ahead of the third season, set to get into gear on home soil at Zandvoort on 28 September.

"We had the pace and the strategy to finish on the podium," the former grand prix driver remarked afterwards. "That was good. When you look at the championship it is a just and fair result with Germany, New Zealand, Great Britain and France in front of us. We had a good and solid season."

 

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