It’s rare that you meet a driver that has done as much as Jeroen Bleekemolen has. He has raced Le Mans, Porsche GT3, A1GP, Race of Champions and even raced in our local Shelby Can-Am series! He is the son of a Formula One driver, he’s truly a proper racing driver and has always been a joy to watch race. I was extremely lucky to able to interview him, and admittedly it was one of the more special interviews I’ve been able to do here at RunRideDive.
Firstly thank you so much for doing this interview with us!
Having driven in so many different types of Motorsport events, which has been your favourite?
I think the most impressive event has to be the Le Mans 24 hours for me. But luckily I have been in many great events of our sport. Racing in Monaco is always a highlight and we have had some great events with A1GP.
Having driven all around the world in your career which has been your favourite country to visit and which was your favourite track on which to race?
For me it’s always hard to pick one favourite track. I would say Le Mans, Nordschleife, Monaco and Bathurst are on top of my list. But also the US has some great tracks. Anyway I like seeing many different places in the world. Racing all over the world is a lot of fun, because in every country there is a different atmosphere.
What was it like racing under someone as experienced and legendary as Jos Verstappen? Did you learn from the experience?
It was great fun and we had a lot of success together. Winning Le Mans in 2008 was great, we both enjoyed it a lot. I think everyone can learn from each other in this sport. For sure I could pick up some things from Jos as he has much F1 experience. On the other hand he could pick up things from me because I have a lot of experience in endurance racing. In the end every driver has it’s own way of doing things, but it’s nice to see a lot of different approaches work for different people.
What was your most satisfying race win?
It’s very hard to pick. I think winning Le Mans in 2008. But also winning for the 1st time in Monaco in 2007 was great.
The A1 Grand Prix series unfortunately never lasted, but being part of the series itself must’ve been a wonderful experience, are there any special memories you hold dear?
All the time when I see people who worked in A1GP we talk about how great it was. The series was fantastic to be part of. My best memory is the race at Zandvoort in 2006. It was my first race, in front of 140.000 Orange fans. I took the lead and they all went crazy. People still talk about that weekend in the Netherlands.
Winning the Porsche Supercup in 2008 must’ve been an incredible experience, what made that year so successful for you?
I was by far the most consistent driver. The competition was very hard that season. We had 30 cars and around 10 drivers that were capable of winning. If you look at the lap times, it was probably the closest season in Supercup ever. I finished on the podium in nearly every race. In the end I won the championship with the biggest points lead ever.
You also won the LMP2 class in 2008 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, what makes this event such a special event and challenge for the drivers?
It’s such a big event, so popular all around the world. The track is great to drive, a real challenge. There are big differences in speed between the classes which makes it harder, especially in the night. And of course the race has a great history.
Starting in Formula Ford, was this the ideal starting point to graduate to higher honours in Motorspot?
I learned a lot in Formula Ford. The cars are good to race with and also you can learn a lot finding the right set up. I have had some great races in Formula Ford and if I have to do it over again, I would start there again.
What are your ambitions for the 2012 season?
Already the season has been very good. I have won the Dubai 24 hours, finished 2nd at the 24 hours of Daytona and the 12 hours of Bathurst and won the 6 hours of Laguna Seca. There are still some big races this year like the Spa 24 hours, where I hope to do well again.
What was it like growing up with a Formula One racing driver for a father?
It was great. I have traveled a lot with him to the races when I was young. I have really good memories of that.
You raced in the local Shelby Can-Am series at the historic Kyalami racetrack, what was that experience like?
The track is fun to drive and so are the cars. But most of all I enjoyed racing with all these great people. They are all very nice and are really enjoying racing. And that’s what it’s all about, you have to enjoy it. I always had a great time and I would like to come back anytime.
I loved the story about you losing a tyre while racing in Porsche GT3 Cup, fetching it and putting it in your car so you could return to the pits with the same set of tyres. What went through your mind at that point?
I straight away thought about the rules at Le Mans. You’re allowed to get out of your car, but you can’t go away from it for more than 10 meters, otherwise you’re disqualified. I needed that tyre, as it was marked, so I just figured I should get out and pick it up. To get the pole afterwards was so cool. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a great moment and we all enjoyed it afterwards.
What was the experience of the Race of Champions like? It must’ve been a fun and very different kind of race event!
It was really nice. It was cool racing all the big names of our sport. After the races we also had a lot of fun, so the whole event was just great. They have a lot of nice cars to drive. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, even the biggest names of our sport.
Having done so much in your career, what is next up for you?
I hope to win many more races, especially the big 24 hour races. I hope to stay a professional race driver for many years and look back on wins at Le Mans, Daytona and so on. So I keep pushing!
What do you do outside of racing?
I just enjoying the time with my family. With close to 40 race weekends a year all over the world I don’t have time for anything else. I got a 2 year old son, so whenever I’m not racing, I’m having fun with my family!
Who has been your favourite driver to race with?
It’s hard to say. I’ve had many teammates. I liked working with Neel Jani and Sean Edwards most. But I’m sure I’m forgetting a few really good guys now, so I don’t want to get a fight with them!
What has been the highlight of your racing career?
Winning Le Mans in 2008 and Monaco twice.