Craft-Bamboo Racing is aiming high for the third round of the Blancpain GT Series Asia in Suzuka this weekend and is all set to fight for the podium with their two GT3s and one GT4 entry. The team also welcomes Nick Foster who will partner with Devon Modell in the #88 Porsche 911 GT3 R, joining Darryl O’Young and Peter Li Zhi Cong in the #99 VLT Porsche 911 GT3 R sister car. With both the #88 and #99 Porsches scoring points in the previous round, the two GT3 entries are focused on an increase in performance this weekend that will see them competing for the podium against the series leaders. Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin are currently second in the GT4 drivers’ standings and will be fighting to reclaim the championship lead by the end of the two races in Japan.
Nick Foster is a young but experienced GT driver with a strong background in Porsche machinery. After rising through the ranks of the Australian Formula Ford and Formula 3 championships, Foster made guest appearances in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia before competing in his first full season in 2014. The young Australian’s talents behind the wheel of a Porsche were obvious, with Foster becoming the PCCA Pro-Class champion in 2015. Having just returned from the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a 10th place finish in the Porsche 911 RSR (2016), Foster is more than prepared to step into the #88 and take the fight to the Blancpain GT Series Asia field with his new teammate, Modell. Modell has gained plenty of experience in the 911 GT3 R during the last round of competition in Thailand and now that he has gotten to grips with the Porsche, expect the #88 to be one of the toughest pairings to face on track this weekend.
Peter Li Zhi Cong makes his return to the #99 Porsche 911 GT3 R and re-joins O’Young to continue their championship fight in Japan. Li has fond memories of Suzuka, having taken a win back in 2013 in the GT Asia Series. While Li will have to quickly get reacquainted with the Porsche after having been out of the car since early April, his confidence with the track should help him acclimatize easily and allow him to start turning laps at full pace. O’Young scored his first points of the season in Thailand and is looking to build on those results this weekend. The Hong Kong driver will need to get the #99 VLT Porsche dialled in while he gets to grips with the track, having only raced on the short circuit during his time in the WTCC. As a seasoned driver with plenty of time behind the wheel of the #99 VLT Porsche, O’Young shouldn’t take long to find his feet and begin challenging for the front row of the grid in the first qualifying session.
Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin need a strong weekend in Suzuka to claw back the vital points necessary to regain the championship top spot. Now 11 points behind the lead, the #77 pairing need two solid finishes to ensure they can leap ahead of their season rivals in the #10 Porsche. It has been a constant battle throughout the season, with the two cars trading wins and second place podiums in every race. Yu has competed at the Suzuka circuit before and will be able to guide Merlin during the early sessions to bring him up to speed as fast as possible. Both drivers will be looking to capitalize on their qualifying performance so they can get a jump on their competitors and maximize their chances of victory in each race.
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing
"Suzuka is a firm favourite with the team and the drivers, the circuit should suit us more than the previous two races. We are also hoping for cooler conditions compared to Thailand and Malaysia, but the Japanese summer can be very varied. I am personally looking forward to Nick Foster joining us for this race and seeing how he does."
#88 Porsche 911 GT3 R
"I'm very much looking forward to racing at Suzuka this weekend, which is one of those iconic tracks on most drivers’ lists of where they want to race. We should get off to a better start than at Buriram as I now know both the team and car and just have the circuit to learn. I'm looking forward to racing with Nick who brings with him lots of Porsche experience, which should enable us to be in the mix for a good result."
“I am very excited to be joining Craft-Bamboo Racing in the Blancpain GT Series Asia. Personally, it's a great opportunity to work with an operation with such vast experience, which I will no doubt draw on over the weekend. Suzuka is an amazing track, it's both technical and committed, so I can't wait to tackle it in the #88 Porsche GT3 R.”
#99 VLT Porsche 911 GT3 R
“I am really looking forward to Suzuka this weekend. I have only driven the short circuit with WTCC, so it is going to be a challenge to learn the full circuit and set the car up for the race. We will be working really hard in the free practice sessions to adapt the car to the circuit and push the car to its limits at Suzuka.”
Peter Li Zhi Cong
“I am excited to get back in the car as I haven’t driven it since the championship’s opening race at Sepang. Suzuka is a great circuit but not an easy one. I know how important the free practice sessions will be for me. The last time I was in Suzuka was in 2013, and I won the GT Asia Series race. I know it will be hard to repeat the result but I will do my best to leave Japan with a good result in the bag. I am looking forward to the weekend ahead.”
#77 Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR
"I am really looking forward to Suzuka, I haven’t been back to the circuit in three years but it is one of my favourite circuits in Asia if not of all time. I think the Porsche will be quite strong here and I am looking forward to gaining some points and trying to take the lead back this weekend.”
"I am very impatient to get back in the car and I am very excited to finally race at Suzuka. This track has been on my dream list for a very long time and now I finally get to compete here. I hope that I can learn the track quickly as Frank and I need to make up some points to regain our lead in the drivers’ championship.”