Bleekemolen the wildcard in LDM driver decision
Jeroen Bleekemolen has emerged as the European candidate for Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport’s remaining Pirtek Enduro Cup co-driver seat.
The team is currently weighing up the merits of Bleekemolen versus locals Karl Reindler and Aaren Russell for the drive alongside Tim Blanchard.
The squad already has Brit Oliver Gavin locked in to partner main driver Nick Percat.
Reindler and Russell both cut laps in LDM’s Holdens during opening practice at Queensland Raceway today, taking to the track alongside 20 other co-drivers.
LDM team manager Barry Hay confirmed to Speedcafe.com that a decision will be made early next week.
Although Bleekemolen has impressive European credentials as well as experience in V8 Supercars, Hay says the logistics of getting the 33-year-old Dutchman to Sandown is an important factor.
“Jeroen is really, really keen to do it,” Hay told Speedcafe.com.
“He’s a big fan of V8s and a big fan of Bathurst and eventually wants to come and do the series.
“The only thing that’s an issue is how late he would arrive to the team because he’s got the Barcelona 24 Hour the weekend prior (to Sandown).
“That would get him into Melbourne on Tuesday night with a big day ahead of him on the Wednesday, doing seat pours and meeting the crew and so on.
“That’d be a pretty big call for any driver to then jump into a car he’s never driven with a team he’s never met.
“But his driving speaks for itself, he’s absolutely at the top of his game and has no shortage of qualifications.”
Bleekemolen impressed on his V8 Supercars debut with Stone Brothers Racing at the 2012 Gold Coast 600, before running all three Pirtek Enduro Cup events with Tekno Autosports the following year.
He currently enjoys a diverse GT racing schedule, which includes regular appearances in the United Sportscar Series in the United States and ADAC GT Masters in Germany.
Hay meanwhile says the team was impressed by both locals in today’s morning practice, which saw Reindler and Russell 19th and 21st on the time sheets respectively.
“Aaren was at an advantage because he stepped out of one hot car into another, so he was good to go straight away,” said Hay.
“He didn’t set the world on fire but just did a solid job, which is what we asked. He did exactly what he was told.
“Karl hadn’t sat in a car since October 2013, but by the second lap he was looking alright and didn’t put a foot wrong.
“I was pretty happy with both boys and the good thing is that running them has taken the guess work out of the decision.
“We’ve just got to think it through and make a decision to put an end to the saga. We’re hoping to have it done by Monday or Tuesday. There’s no reason not to.”
LDM endured a difficult day with its primary drivers as Percat and Blanchard struggled to find comfortable set-ups on the way to 24th and 25th respectively in Practice 2.