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GT4 Podium for Craft-Bamboo Racing Despite Challenging Weekend During Opening Round of Blancpain GT Series Asia

It was a challenging weekend for Craft-Bamboo Racing during the opening round of the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Asia in the GT3 class, but the team managed to secure a hard fought second place podium in the GT4 class. Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin drove a superb race one from P4 to kick off their championship title defence with a well-deserved podium. While the Porsche 911 GT3 R struggled in the Sepang heat, both cars demonstrated some good performance. The #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Sandy Stuvik and Shae Davies debuted with a top-ten championship points finish in race one, followed by the #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Darryl O’Young and Aidan Read in P11. The #911 Porsche just missed out on another points finish in race two, taking P12 at the flag, with #991 close behind once more in P14. Topping off their weekend in GT4, the #77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR finished P4 to help Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin into P3 in the GT4 drivers’ championship.

Qualifying:

#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Q1: Shae Davies: P12 – 02:05.020
Q2: Sandy Stuvik: P15 – 02:04.579

#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Q1: Aidan Read: P11 – 02:04.997
Q2: Darryl O’Young: P18 – 02:05.364

#77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR

Q1: Frank Yu: P4 – 02:18.641
Q2: Jean-Marc Merlin: P5 – 02:19.394

Race One

#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Shae Davies began the season from P12 and got away cleanly for his first ever Blancpain GT Series Asia debut, managing to hold his position in the middle of the jostling pack. He was soon able to take another place and move into P11 and focus on charging up the field. After working hard to break into championship point territory, the #911 driver handed the car over to Sandy Stuvik in P9, giving them a good opportunity at some points in their very first race. Stuvik rejoined the race in P10 behind the #991 Porsche of O’Young and focused on reeling him in over the coming laps. Eventually, Stuvik managed to make a clean pass on O’Young and keep the car in the top-ten until the chequered flag fell, securing them a championship point for their efforts.

#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Aidan Read was tasked with getting the season underway for the #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R from P11 on the grid. He made an excellent start and fought his way up to P5 before the safety car was called out within the first few minutes of the hour-long race. After the restart, Read was on the defensive and dropped a place to P6 but kept pace with the front of the pack for the rest of his stint. The Australian driver did a stellar job to keep his opponents at bay until the pit stop window arrived 25 minutes in, handing the car over to Darryl O’Young in P5. Unfortunately, the #991 was undercut during the pit stop and after the pit stop shuffle had ended, they found themselves fighting to the flag from P9. After a full course yellow with less than 20 minutes to go, O’Young found himself in a tough position but he pushed forward and managed to hold onto P9 as the race entered the final ten minutes. A battle between the #911 sister car soon ensued and after trading friendly blows, Stuvik managed to edge ahead. With only a couple of laps left, O’Young was just outside the points and despite his best efforts the Porsche just didn’t have the pace to challenge the heat in Sepang and finished race one in P11.

#77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR

It was Frank Yu who kicked off the #77’s title defence from P4 in the GT4 class and he did an incredible job as the lights went out for the first time in 2018 in Sepang. Yu managed to snatch two positions on the opening lap, which was a huge accomplishment against the new GT4 manufacturers. Now sitting in P2, Yu put in a flawless stint at full pace to maintain that position to the pit stop window, where he handed over the car to Jean-Marc Merlin. Merlin continued with the epic performance, not missing a beat and taking the #77 Porsche to the flag in P2 to secure them a crucial second place podium and a huge 18 points to add to their drivers’ championship campaign.

Race Two

#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Race two’s starting duties now belonged to Sandy Stuvik and he began Sunday’s race from P15. It was another clean start from the #911 driver and he maintained his position over the opening laps, thankfully avoiding an incident early on with the Ferrari. Lacking outright pace, Stuvik was able to run a clean stint but not make up ground on his rivals, delivering the car in P15 to his teammate, Shae Davies. The Aussie made a strong push from the pit exit and was able to find his way into P13 with 20 minutes remaining. Davies continued to chip away with each lap and began to make some ground on those ahead, managing to sneak into P12 in the final ten minutes. It was an excellent stint and Davies continued his push to the flag but lacked the outright performance to break into the top ten.

#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Darryl O’Young began race two in the #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R in P18 and made the jump to P17 during the opening couple of laps. While O’Young did his best to give chase from P17, the #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R struggled for pace and he found it difficult to find a way through the field. O’Young pushed on in P17 until he pitted to hand over to his teammate at the start of the pit window. The #991 Porsche was able to gain some ground after the pit stop with Aidan Read slotting into P15 as the race entered its closing stages. Read gave it everything he had and was able to take a further position as his stint progressed, putting the #991 Porsche into P14 where it would ultimately finish ten minutes later.

#77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR

Jean-Marc Merlin got underway from P5 in the GT4 class and held his position for the opening portion of the race, creating a gap to those behind while he fought to catch the car in front. His persistence paid off, as he was eventually presented with the opportunity to overtake towards the end of his stint. After taking P4, Merlin handed the car to Frank Yu to close out the weekend. While Yu had slipped back to P5 after the pitstop thanks to their success penalty from race one, he made back the time with another strong stint in the #77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR. Yu’s push made all the difference and he was able to secure a P4 finish for the pair, which greatly helped their title chances. The #77 duo are now P3 in the GT4 class, setting themselves up for a challenge on the leaders when they head to Buriram for round two in May.

Quotes

Russell O’Hagan, Operations Director of Craft-Bamboo Racing

“I am very proud of what the team achieved over a weekend where the conditions just didn’t favour our cars. The team and drivers showed great determination and resilience to grind out the result they did. Fortunately, an equally challenging weekend in GT4 delivered a great second place in race one, which meant the team got the reward they all deserved. It was a really incredible drive by both Frank and Jean-Marc.”

Sandy Stuvik, #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R

“Race one was a great race for us in terms of setup, the mechanics and my engineer Matt Harvey did an excellent job setting the car up to handle the tire degradation and we had a consistent race package which enabled us to move up through the field after a solid start by Shae. I couldn’t be more impressed with how the team operated and our pitstops ran smoothly without any mistakes. I was happy to bring the car home in 10th place to pick up our first points of the season.”

“Race two was more challenging as I started in P15 and tried to pick up a few spots at the start until I had to avoid a crash with a Ferrari. When the race settled I focused on driving consistently, again with a stellar race car prepared by the team, but unfortunately the heat of Sepang was not suiting our car well. Shae drove a fantastic stint and brought the car home in 12th place.”

“Not the results we wanted but we have to accept that the BOP is not in our favour at the moment. I feel that we got the maximum from the car and team and we didn’t set a foot wrong in any of the races. This truly was the best we could have done this weekend. Now there is full focus for my home round in Thailand and hope that we will get our chance to fight for podium positions!”

Shae Davies, #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Race One: “I was a bit timid on my first Blancpain start and a few spots closed up and I found it difficult to make inroads on that. We put in some good laps and had some good pace, which helped us catch the pack and overtake a few cars. After Sandy’s stint we finished P10, which was nice for us to get a point on the board.”

Race Two: “Sandy got a good start and did a great job in his stint. I jumped in on some fresh tyres and we were able to get some good laps in while the tyres were fresh. We weren’t able to break into the points but we had a good stint none the less. We got the most out of the car from what was available on the day. Operationally, the team has been fantastic, and the mechanics have been flawless. I think when the BoP and performance comes to us we will have some great weekends.”

Darryl O’Young, #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Race One: “In the end we just aren’t quick enough. Sepang hasn’t been the best for us in terms of pace against the other cars. We didn’t get the maximum out of the car that we wanted to, and we ended up in P11, just outside the points. This was disappointing as we wanted to score some points heading into the weekend. It was a good first race though in terms of Aidan and I working together, and we can only get stronger.”

Race Two: “We struggled with overall pace. I had a decent start, but I had to avoid some cars and lost some positions. It was a pretty clean stint, but we just didn’t have the pace to stay with the front cars. I passed the car to Aidan and he did a good job. We look forward to Buriram now and we are going to analyze everything and hopefully push for stronger results next time.”

Aidan Read, #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Race One: “I had a really good start and punched above my weight a bit and was fighting with cars that had a bit more raw speed. I managed to keep them behind and hold station in fifth place. Unfortunately, we got undercut in the pit stop and Darryl lost some positions and finished just outside the points in P11.”

Race Two: “Darryl started and had a good clean race, but it was quite difficult to fight and be aggressive without the pace. Overall, it was a tough weekend, we worked hard for the results that we got. It is important that we pick ourselves up from this and have a good one in Buriram.”

Frank Yu, #77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR

Race One: “The second place came as a surprise as the new GT4 manufacturers had such good pace. Our car was a couple of seconds off the pace, but I had a very good start and got into P2 from P4 within the first lap and I held the position there. I wasn’t able to keep up with the leader though. I handed the car to Jean-Marc and he did a very good job to keep that position until the end.”

Race Two: “Race two was uneventful and Jean-Marc handed the car to me in P4, which is where I finished. We did not have the pace to hunt the cars in front of us, and the cars behind us were not quick enough to catch us so we were just driving alone the whole race.”

Jean-Marc Merlin, #77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR

Race One: “Race one was a great if somewhat unexpected result. Frank had a great stint and I managed to keep good pace during my stint to hold our second place. It was a great start to the season and one that I am very proud of.”

Race Two: “P4 was the best we could do in race two. I was held up for several laps by the Mclaren which was struggling but defending very well. Once I passed it I could regain my pace until I pitted for Frank’s stint. The Cayman is showing its limits on the straights and I am looking forward to the twisty sections of Buriram next month.”

Source. Craft Bamboo Racing

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