International drivers are no strangers to V8 Supercars nor for that matter Aussie touring cars.
History shows that drivers from overseas have tasted success in Australia’s biggest race with racers like Rauno Aaltonen, Jacky Ickx, Rickard Rydell and John Fitzpatrick among a special list who have won the Bathurst 1000 in past years.
Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen is keen to add his name to that list.
After sampling the exquisitely engineered LMP2 class Porsche RS Spyder in demo runs at Mount Panorama last weekend, Bleekemolen has caught the Bathurst bug.
It was not his first visit to the mountain. Earlier in the year he drove the Erebus Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 into second place in the Bathurst 12-hour.
In an uncanny twist Bleekemolen will drive with Stone Brothers at the Armor All 600 at the Gold Coast in 10 days with Stone Brothers who have done a deal with Erebus to run E63 AMG bodied V8 Supercars from next season.
Speedcafe.com’s Gordon Lomas caught up with the Flying Dutchman in the Stone Brothers pit bunker at Bathurst last weekend to chat about possibilities for the future.
SPEEDCAFE: You are no stranger to the awesome Porsche RS Spyder of course winning your class at Le Mans in the prototype a few years ago?
JEROEN BLEEKEMOLEN: I drove the 2006 version of the Porsche Spyder but the car is very similar to the current version. As soon as I jumped in at Bathurst everything came back to me like the noise, the switches the whole thing.
SPEEDCAFE: What about this circuit across the top, that must have an awesome feeling in the Spyder?
BLEEKEMOLEN: It is. It is such an honour to drive such a car at this great track and I really enjoyed it. Especially across the top of the mountain where you can really feel the aerodynamic grip it was unreal…amazing.
SPEEDCAFE: It would be great to see these prototypes in here in a race wouldn’t it?
BLEEKEMOLEN: Yes. It felt like the track was built for these types of cars. You can really use the aerodynamics to your advantage.
SPEEDCAFE: So what are your plans for next year? I would imagine you would have a pretty busy schedule.
BLEEKEMOLEN: I haven’t decided yet. I have a lot of stuff going on in America with Grand-Am and the ALMS.
SPEEDCAFE: Both of those series are merging correct?
BLEEKEMOLEN: They are but not yet. They will merge in 2014 so for me it might be a good idea to do both next year to get a really good deal for 2014. It will probably be in a Porsche and then I’ll do all the big endurance races. I’m planning to do the 24 hour races, so Le Mans, Daytona hopefully Spa and Nurburgring.
SPEEDCAFE: Has Stone Brothers Racing/EREBUS Motorsport approached you about driving in the Bathurst 1000 next year?
BLEEKEMOLEN: I would like to do it. I’m really amazed by the racing. They race hard but still fair and it’s just great. I would like to race more at Bathurst and who knows? Maybe there will be something for me here that comes up.
SPEEDCAFE: So has anything been discussed about it this weekend?
BLEEKEMOLEN: No. I might be back in the 12-hour early next year at Bathurst, but I haven’t really talked to them about their plans as yet. I’ve talked about doing Surfers Paradise with the Erebus people coming into the series.
SPEEDCAFE: It certainly would be an opportunity given that you have raced with Erebus before?
BLEEKEMOLEN: It is a coincidence that I have raced for both Erebus and I’m with SBR for Surfers Paradise in a couple of weeks. But maybe this will be a good thing for me as the future unfolds.
SPEEDCAFE: What driving duties do you have over the next few weeks?
BLEEKEMOLEN: I’m off to Spain this weekend to drive the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 in the Blancpain endurance series at the Navarra circuit.
SPEEDCAFE: That is a lot of travelling for you in a short space of time because you then have to leave Spain and come back for the Gold Coast?
BLEEKEMOLEN: Yeah it isn’t always easy but that is the way it is, coming here was definitely worth it so I’m happy to spend some hours in a plane if it means coming to events like this.
SPEEDCAFE: I have been to the Le Mans 24-hour three times and seen what a massive event that it is, where does the Bathurst 1000 compare to the major race meetings in Europe?
BLEEKEMOLEN: Oh it is right up there with the Nurburgring 24 hour. Over 200,000 people attend that event and Le Mans is also really big as you know. I think Bathurst is in the same bracket. It’s just as big. I’m astonished by it. It’s unbelievable. I really hope to do the V8 race here one day.
SPEEDCAFE: It is a real possibility that it could happen as soon as next year I suppose?
BLEEKEMOLEN: Yeah exactly.