Jeroen Bleekemolen believes he can complete the famous home win he so nearly achieved last year at the A1 Grand Prix season opener at Zandvoort next month.

Speaking at the launch of the A1 Team Netherlands entry, Bleekemolen believes a season racing the 550bhp machine has made all the difference as he seeks to extend the team's good record in the championship.

Although no more than a recognised driver in his home nation, Bleekemolen became a sensation at last year's event when he was called upon to assume racing duties when Jos Verstappen pulled out just hours before the first meeting.

Having not readily tested the car and only driven touring cars in recent years, Bleekemolen was in at the deep end but incredibly found himself leading the feature race when it began to rain, allowing his local knowledge came into play.

Although a drying circuit meant he eventually slipped to a still rapturously received fourth position, Bleekemolen had made his mark, going on to score a win in Beijing on the way to taking Netherlands to fifth in the standings - two positions higher than national hero Verstappen had managed a season earlier.

Established as the lead driver and with pre-season testing looming, Bleekemolen is bullish about his chances when the season gets back underway with the team's home race at the end of September.

"It can only get better," the former DTM driver told a1gp.com. "The team is staying the same this season so I can work with the same people again. We improved over last season quite a lot so with the official test days coming up we can improve as a team together and do a better job than last year.

"I will know the car at Zandvoort in a way I didn't last time. Then, it came together very quickly but this year it will be easier to be on the pace straight away. I feel much more confident with the way I can drive the car.

"Last year it was so sudden then that I wasn't able to run at my full potential. We were not the fastest in the dry and we had a bad qualifying run and ended up eighth when we should have been in the top five. We nearly won the Feature race so that should be our own goal this time - to try and win it."

As for the championship, Bleekemolen believes Netherlands can challenge for the title, not least because they were regular point scorers towards the end of last season.

"The goal is the championship at the end of the year,' he added. 'We were already quite competitive at the end of last year so we have to make the final step to be always in the top three. But at the end of the day if we are top three then we will be happy. But you want the best of all so we will try to get the championship."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...