Home favourites A1 Team Netherlands insist they are more fired-up than ever to shine in front of their partisan supporters this weekend, after enduring a torrid time during qualifying.

Having expected to challenge for pole position for both the sprint and feature races, Dutch A1GP regular Jeroen Bleekemolen was understandably disappointed to have managed no better than fifth and eleventh positions respectively, after circumstances contrived against the local heroes throughout the four qualifying sessions.

Having twice lapped sixth-quickest in damp free practice, former DTM and FIA GT star Bleekemolen showed strongly and consistently during the first half of qualifying to seal fifth spot for the sprint race, despite having to deal with a red flag brought out for Buddy Rice's spin in the American entry.

Things went less well in Q3 and Q4, however - determining the shape of the feature race grid - as the squad badly-judged the ever-changing weather conditions and sent the 25-year-old out on-track too early, badly compromising his efforts. As the circuit dried out, other teams went quicker and Bleekemolen slipped down the order, ultimately winding up eleventh from where he will start the 70-minute event.

"This was a bad rehearsal," acknowledged team principal and former grand prix ace Jan Lammers, "but it has motivated us even more to take a good result on our home track. We were not able to maximise the constantly-changing weather conditions, but if it is dry tomorrow I hope our local knowledge will give us an edge - no one else has driven here in dry conditions this year. The fact that everything - free practice sessions and qualifying - was all on the same day did not help us either.

"Qualifying is essentially our job list; when you are in fifth you know there are four to overtake and the same goes for 11th. We have got our work cut out, but let's not forget that last year we started in eighth and could have won the race."



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