Image credit: Racexpress.
With the WeatherTech 12H of Sebring just days away we took five minutes out of Dutch SportsCar Ace Jeroen Bleekemolen’s schedule for a brief Q&A.
SCG: So we’re looking forward to the 12H of Sebring next weekend, how do the extreme track conditions there influence the set up of the Viper?
JB: It’s extremely bumpy. That makes a lot of things like shock absorbers and springs work much harder than any other circuit. Furthermore headroom here is often slightly higher. Downforce is important at Sebring, despite a long straight we still need a lot of downforce.
SCG: The weather in Sebring is often hot and humid, do you notice the car behaving significantly differently due to that?
JB: The track changes a lot here, more then most other tracks. Sometimes it can be 2 seconds/lap slower. Typically it’s faster in the morning when it’s cooler. The rubber being put down can also influence a lot. And the racing line has grip here but off line there is no grip at all. And it gets worse during the week.
SCG: What about the fans? Turn 10 is a legendary corner as one of the biggest ‘party areas’ at Sebring. Usually a lot of the Dutch from ‘Drinking for Holland’ congregate there – do you ever get to take a cheeky look as you’re going round?
JB: It is great to see al the fans in Sebring. It’s an awesome atmosphere, one of the best races in that respect. And everybody is having a good time out there.
SCG: What about pre race rituals or superstitions, do you have any routines you follow?
JB: No, I try to keep it as simple as possible.
SCG: When you’re not driving do you use a ‘home sim’ at all to keep your hand in?
JB: I have never been on a good simulator yet. For sure it can help. But I drive so much I don’t have time to also do some work on a sim. I’m good at learning new tracks but I just prepare by watching onboards on YouTube. Works for me.
SCG: You now have seats in BlancpainGT confirmed by Grasser Racing and IMSA in the Viper Exchange Viper, do you have any further plans?
JB: Sure, 24h Le Mans, 24h Nurburgring and some Pirelli World Challenge races in America. Then the schedule is already filling up, but there will surely have something here and there .
SCG: (you may have guessed by now the interview took place just hours before the LM news broke!) The Viper is not on the entry list of LM24 this year and only 7th reserve, has there been interest from any other teams to give you a seat ?
JB: I have received several offers. But a few hours after we knew it was not going to happen with the Viper we already had a plan B to do the deal for an LMP2 drive with Ben Keating and Murphy Prototypes.
SCG: Great news, we’re very pleased to see you back at Le Mans. Thanks for taking the time to chat and good luck this weekend.