Jeroen Bleekemolen to drive an Opel Vectra GTS V8 in home race
In the eighth race of the 2004 DTM at Zandvoort in The Netherlands (September 3 till 5), local hero Jeroen Bleekemolen will be racing an Opel Vectra GTS V8 for the first time. Just like the Astra V8 Coup? he had been racing so far, his new car will be entered and run by the Italian OPC Euroteam.
Bleekemolen is looking forward to the challenge in the current DTM-car, but he also warns for expectations running too high: "Of course, being able to drive a new car in front of my home crowd is just great. But you have to bear in mind that the car is entirely new, both for my team and for myself, whereas all the other Opel-teams and drivers have been running with this car all season."
Bleekemolen' s change brought about some difficulties on the organisational side, but these problems were solved quickly. Volker Strycek: "The DTM regulations allow a car change without further ado. During the course of the season, however, any two car team is only allowed to use three engines. So, in fact, we would have had to build the engine from the Astra into the Vectra. The dimensions of the engine, however, prevented us from doing so. Therefore, we had to find another solution."
Which was eventually brought forward by the DTM-commission of the DMSB, Germany's governing body for motorsport. "Our colleagues from Audi and Mercedes-Benz approved Jeroen's switch to a Vectra GTS V8 with a new engine, without any further consequences for him. This was by no means self-evident. It is rather another example of the good and co-operative atmosphere that has become the norm in the DTM," says Strycek.
During a test session at the Pannoniaring in Hungary a fortnight ago, Jeroen Bleekemolen got the chance to drive his new car for the first time. He commented his move as "a big step forward." Bleekemolen continues: "I immediately felt comfortable and this session really whetted my appetite! After these first few laps, I can hardly await the race at Zandvoort..."
The young Dutch driver hopes for the support of his compatriots. "When you are racing abroad almost all season, like I am, it is nice to be able to drive in front of a home crowd for once. The track is almost in my back yard. Because of that, I can also sleep in my own bed during the race weekend. Normally, only Formula 1 drivers can do so in Monaco."