Craft-Bamboo Racing is proud to announce Jules Gounon and Joel Camathias for the #88 Apex Porsche 911 GT3 R that will compete at the inaugural round of the Blancpain GT Series Asia. Sponsored by Apex Circuit Design, the #88 Porsche will be in the capable hands of championship winning former Porsche drivers, Gounon and Camathias, a pairing that should prove to be one of most competitive combinations on the grid. The pair will join Darryl O’Young and Peter Li in the #99 VLT Porsche 911 GT3 R and Frank Yu and Jean Marc-Merlin in the #77 Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR, all of whom who will be fighting for the win this weekend at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. With two GT3s and one GT4, Craft-Bamboo Racing is focused on kicking off their Blancpain GT Series Asia season with victory in both classes.
As the son of a former Formula 1 driver, Gounon had motorsport in his blood and he quickly rose through the karting ranks to be crowned the iame x30 world champion and European Vice champion in 2012. This catapulted him onto motorsport’s world stage, scoring a drive in Formula 4 where he took second place in the drivers’ championship. The Frenchman continued to get noticed and scored the French Porsche Junior Scholarship in 2014 before joining the Porsche Carrera Cup France and becoming a race winner in 2015. Gounon kept impressing and joined the ADAC GT Masters in 2016 where he would finish 3rd overall. Not content with sticking to sprint racing, the 22 year old took on the 24 Hours of Daytona and finished 2nd in the GT class before taking 4th place at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Gounon now returns to Porsche with Craft-Bamboo Racing and is intent on finding success this weekend against the best GT teams and drivers in Asia.
Camathias, who hails from Switzerland, is a masterful GT driver who cut his teeth on karting and then Formula cars, culminating with a drive for Dale Coyne Racing in the Champ Car series in 2003. Camathias’ switch to GT cars in 2006 proved to be the right choice, taking the Le Mans Series title in a works Porsche. He would go on to win again in a Porsche, taking the International GT Open title the following year and once again in 2009. Camathias entered the WEC in 2012, scoring wins and podiums in the Porsche 911 RSR. Over the next few years he would go on to race in the International GT Open and Italian GT championship before making a return to WEC in 2016. The hugely experienced Camathias will now compete for opening round glory in the #88 Apex Porsche, a manufacturer he knows well and one that has been responsible for much of his career success.
The joining of Gounon and Camathias makes for a formidable pairing, fusing together championship winning experience and extensive time behind the wheel of a Porsche. However, the GT drivers will need to work hard to learn the circuit in the opening sessions to ensure they are in top form for qualifying on Saturday.
Darryl O’Young and Peter Li are ready to get their season underway in the #99 VLT Porsche 911 GT3 R and are confident that will be able to deliver results when the lights go out on Saturday. Both drivers have extensive experience at the Sepang International Circuit, scoring podiums and race wins. This will give them the chance to quickly focus on perfecting the cars setup. To give them even more of an edge, Official Porsche Motorsport Junior Coach Sascha Maassen has been on hand to help Li maximize his performance and get to grips with the Porsche 911 GT3 R as best as possible.
Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin are looking to make history by winning the inaugural GT4 class race in Sepang this weekend. Frank Yu is no stranger to Sepang, having competed at the circuit in a variety of high end machinery. Yu was also able to further get acquainted with the Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR during a test session a few weeks ago, boosting his confidence and in turn his performance in the new GT4 racer. Merlin has not raced at Sepang before and will have to work hard to get accustomed. Thankfully, Craft-Bamboo has extensive experience at the Malaysian track, and paired with his knowledgeable teammate, the French driver will be up to speed in no time.
Race Schedule (GMT +8)
Friday, April 7th
12:15 - 13:00 Blancpain GT Free Practice 1 (45 min)
16:05 – 16:50 Blancpain GT Free Practice 2 (45 min)
Saturday, April 8th
08:15 – 08:45 Blancpain GT Free Practice 3 (30 min)
10:40 – 10:55 Blancpain GT Qualifying 1 (15 min)
11:05 – 11:20 Blancpain GT Qualifying 2 (15 min)
15.10 – 16:15 Blancpain GT Race 1 (1 hour plus leader)
Sunday, April 9th
11:45 – 12:50 Blancpain GT Race 2 (1 hour plus leader)
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“We are very much looking forward to the start of the Blancpain GT Series Asia season this weekend in Sepang. It is a new series and one that we will be competing in with both GT3 and GT4 cars. We have a very strong lineup for Sepang, with some very experienced and successful drivers in all cars.
I would like to welcome Jules Gounon and Joel Camathias to Craft-Bamboo Racing. They are both hugely talented drivers with previous experience in Porsches. Paired together I am sure that they will be very quick this weekend and one of the most competitive packages on the grid.”
#88 Apex Porsche 911 GT3 R
“I am very proud to be working with Craft-Bamboo Racing and can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 R and take on the Blancapin GT Series Asia grid. It is a new series, so it is going to be an interesting first few sessions to see where we line up but I will be focused on learning the circuit and getting to grips with the car. I am excited to be paired with Joel Camathias who is an incredibly experienced GT driver and together I think we can deliver a competitive package this weekend with the help of Craft-Bamboo."
“I am delighted at having the opportunity to race in the inaugural event of the new SRO-promoted Blancpain GT Series Asia for a great team such as Craft-Bamboo. I was very pleased when I received their call and I will give everything to reward their trust. Having raced in two rounds of the then GT Asia in 2014, I know a little bit about the Asian GT scene and how competitive it has become. Still, the Blancpain GT Series Asia will be new for everyone, so it is difficult to predict who is going to be where, in terms of competitiveness, but having a look at the entry list, one can realize that the level is high. I have never raced before at Sepang, so my first priority will be to learn the track, but I have very good experience with the Porsche and I am very happy to be associated with Jules, who is a fast and talented young driver. I really look forward to racing at Sepang and I am very motivated to contribute to Craft-Bamboo’s efforts.”
#99 VLT Porsche 911 GT3 R
“It's the start of a new season and I'm really excited. It's my 30th year in motorsport, and I'm hoping to make it a special one. I have high expectations this season and really looking to bounce back from what was a tough season last year. Craft-Bamboo Racing is a team full of heart, and everyone deserves a strong year in 2017.”
Peter Li Zhi Cong
“I am looking forward to my first Blancpain GT Series Asia race in Sepang. It will be my first time racing since May last year. I know it is going to be a tough come back but I know I have the support of my teammate and my team. I am new to the car but I hope to adapt quickly and score a good result for Craft-Bamboo Racing and our drivers’ championship challenge”
#77 Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR
“I am really looking forward to race one. It is a new championship and I am sure the new GT4 class will be a big success. I have a very good teammate, who I trust. Over the two day test we had a couple of weeks ago at Sepang, we produced some pretty strong lap times and with the experience of our team we will do well and fight for the overall win in the championship this year."
Jean Marc Merlin
“I am very excited to be racing with Craft-Bamboo and Frank after successful races in the past, such as the Dubai 24 Hour and Bathurst 12 Hour. As for the rest, everything else is new for me this season. The Blancpain Series, race tracks, GT4 Class and the sprint format are all new, but I am very much looking forward to the challenge because I hate repetition.”