International GT Star Joins EuroNASCAR Esports Series

Photo Credit: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

18 May 2020

On May 19th the EuroNASCAR Esports Series will debut at virtual Circuit Zandvoort in the Netherlands. The track located on the North Sea shores will also welcome the first ENES appearance for international GT star Jeroen Bleekemolen, brother of EuroNASCAR PRO driver Sebastiaan and son of EuroNASCAR 2 driver Michael Bleekemolen. The Dutchman will drive the #469 Team Bleekemolen Ford Mustang for his virtual home race at Zandvoort.

Jeroen Bleekemolen is very well known in the GT racing world as a five time IMSA champion, a Le Mans 24 Hours winner in the LMP2 class and a Nurburgring 24 Hours winner. He also competed in DTM and grabbed a podium in the Australian Supercars Series.

Next Tuesday, the Dutchman will make his virtual debut among NASCAR Whelen Euro Series drivers and teams.

ENES debut at Circuit Zandvoort

“We will race at my home track, that’s fun,” said Bleekemolen, who also gained some Late Model experience in the US in 2019. “I don’t know what to expect, but I did some sim races with IMSA so far. To be honest, it’s quite hard as I’m a newcomer to sim racing. Just before the lockdown I got my sim, so I was lucky to get it on time. I was starting with sim racing anyway but now I have some more time.”

“It will be hard since some guys at the front are very fast and it will be a tough challenge. I am doing some training and the team, as well my brother Sebastiaan, are helping me out. We have a fixed setup so it’s all on the driver. The car is hard to drive and it will be hard to stay on track all the time. I think I will manage as I did 90 minutes races without any mistakes, but with the tire wear and all the stuff it will be hard.”

Sim racing a tough challenge for real world drivers

For Bleekemolen it will be a challenge to adapt his real world racing skills to the virtual world but he thinks that a driver can learn from sim racing: “I think when you start sim racing at a young age and race in real life as well you can combine those two things very well. For me it’s a bit harder as I only get the feedback from the steering wheel and the pedals, so it’s tough to translate it.”

“But it’s competition, it looks the same and it also feels a bit the same so it’s good to stay sharp,” said the 38-year-old Heemstede native. “I’m really looking forward to trying it and giving my best. I really think I can put some practice in it before we race next week. It’s all about fun and race people I know, not only my brother.”

Bleekemolen considers real life start in NWES

Bleekemolen is also interested in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, especially since his family joined the series in 2019 with the #69 Team Bleekemolen Mustang. “I really like the format and the fact you share the car,” he said. “I love the American way of racing, it’s a lot about entertainment and it’s a lot of fun. That’s what I like about EuroNASCAR, it really has the American stamp on it. It’s nice to follow the series and even before my family joined the championship I was watching it.”

The Dutchman enjoys the pure racing in EuroNASCAR and wants to try it by himself as soon as his personal schedule will allow him to take part in a NWES race:

“I do a lot of racing, so it’s hard to find the time for it. If there is an opportunity to do a race or even a full season, I would love to do it. I like the series very much. I like that the series race on road courses and the cars are still tricky to handle with the manual gear shift, no ABS and no traction control. It’s more back to basics and that’s how I started racing, so I would love to do it.”