Bleekemolen confident of rising to V8 Supercars challenge
V8 Supercars rookie Jeroen Bleekemolen believes he’s up to the challenge of racing alongside series front-runner Shane van Gisbergen at this year’s Armor All Gold Coast 600.
The 30-year-old Dutchman has a wealth of experience in open-wheel, sports and GT-type cars, but has yet to sample one of the Australian category’s unique vehicles.
The Gold Coast race slots into Bleekemolen’s already busy 2012 schedule that has seen him contest selected races in a variety of categories including the FIA World Endurance Championship, American Le Mans Series, American Grand Am Series, Porsche Supercup, Blancpain Endurance Series, Dutch GT Masters and German GT Masters.
Australians will most likely recognise Bleekemolen from his drive with the Black Falcon/Erebus Racing Mercedes squad at this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour, where he finished second outright in a driver line-up that included Stone Brothers Racing’s Tim Slade.
Bleekemolen, who missed out on an opportunity to drive with SBR on the Gold Coast last year due to a schedule clash, says he’s been an admirer of V8 Supercars for some time.
“I have followed Australian V8 Supercars for many years and think it’s one of the best racing series in the world,” he said.
“To be joining one of the best teams and driver in the series makes it even better.
“I will have to adapt quickly to the car as many of my international competitors have done this race many times before, but I’m really up to the challenge and think we should have a chance to do well.
“Personally I think it would be great if we could get a podium finish and take home a surf board (for a top three finish in either race).”
Van Gisbergen says that he’s not concerned by the Dutchman’s lack of experience with the cars or the circuit.
“Jeroen has won pretty much everything, he’s racing almost every weekend and in all different types of cars, so I think he will be able to adapt pretty quick with the one test day,” he said.
“It is always hard watching another international driver in your car but hopefully we can prepare him as best we can with video and the test day. There is a lot of work to be done to make sure he gets comfortable with the car but I am sure we can do it.”