Team Netherlands added a further two points to its tally at Brno in the Czech Republic last weekend, as Jeroen Bleekemolen continued to earn his A1GP spurs.

The 24-year-old started the sprint race from 12th on the grid, but was immediately forced to back off following the collision between Team Germany and Team New Zealand as the lights went out, leaving him staring frustratedly at Team Lebanon's rear bumper for much of the race. Although he eventually got past, Team Brazil proved to be a tougher nut to crack entirely, and Bleekemolen would ulimately take the flag only 11th.

This result left Team Netherlands tenth on the grid for the longer feature race, though Bleekemolen wasted little time in making up places. An early pit-stop then brought the young Dutchman back out onto the track in ninth, less than a second adrift of the Team China car. Despite pressurising Congfu Cheng all the way to the line, though, Bleekemolen was unable to find a way past and had to settle for ninth at the flag and two points to add to the seven already scored in front of his home fans at Zandvoort.

"In the sprint race the car felt fairly good," the former DTM and FIA GT ace said afterwards. "The difference with the feature race is mainly that you drive with much more fuel on-board and the car felt a lot different then.

"In the beginning I was suffering from understeer and during the race I lost more and more grip. Then we were behind China, who were only a bit slower. Cheng closed the door on me and when you drive intelligently and clean on this circuit it is very difficult to overtake."

"It is all very close and a lot of drivers and teams have improved a lot," added team principal Jan Lammers. "Our pit-stop went well, but our rear jack man got pushed by the South African team, which caused us to lose a few seconds. Instead of passing China and going out on track just in front of Great Britain and Germany, that left us just behind them and really influenced our race.

"Also the car was very difficult to drive this weekend. Jeroen was able to close in on China, but when he tucked in behind we were having problems. We will just have to find a better set-up so that we can end up higher in qualifying. In the race itself we are ok, but we will have to work hard.

"The next race in China is an unknown for everyone. Nobody knows anything about the track, the asphalt or the layout. The most important thing for us is to be towards the top of the field - when you cannot do that it gets difficult immediately. We will now have to study what our problem was here and implement the right things from there for China."

 

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