A1 Team Netherlands driver Jeroen Bleekemolen reckons he will have an advantage when the A1GP series makes its maiden visit to China's Zhuhai International Circuit this season - even though he has never been there before.

In two separate announcements this week, Bleekemolen was confirmed as the Dutch team's lead driver for 2007-08, while Zhuhai was confirmed as a new addition to the A1GP calendar. Very few drivers have any experience of Zhuhai, because it has never hosted an international open-wheel race before, but Bleekemolen reckons that one of his strengths is learning new tracks, and is quite bullish about his team's chances at the round on 16 December.

"I was actually supposed to race at Zhuhai a couple of years ago in a sportscar race, but I was able to take part in the extra test at the A1GP race in Estoril instead," he revealed, "I've spoken to people who have been there and they say it is a 'proper' race track.

"I like these situations because I'm normally quite good at learning tracks. Last year, when it came to the new tracks, I was on the pace straight away. I was always there in the top three for the first half hour - for example, Taupo went really well and nobody had raced there before. I'd love more new tracks because it is only an advantage for me."

Bleekemolen says there are distinct strategies than can be employed in learning new tracks, but reveals that he chooses to avoid playing the circuit on video games - one of the most popular strategies used by other drivers.

"I don't really sit behind a computer to learn the tracks to be honest," he confirmed, "I've played them a bit, but it doesn't really help. It looks like the track on the computer, but you don't get the feelings at all, things like how far you can run over and things like the kerbs. At the end of the day, the speed is made by having those feelings.

"I can go over data from other series that have raced there, so at least I know how I can take corners and how to brake. But, really, you don't know anything about it until you go out on track. It is hard to prepare, but I really like these situations because I'm normally quite good at it."

 

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