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Craft-Bamboo Racing heads to historic Suzuka with 4-car Mercedes-AMG entry

20 June 2019
For Immediate Distribution

Craft-Bamboo Racing showed strong pace in the opening 2 rounds of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia season, which saw Craft-Bamboo Racing scoring a victory and podiums at the opening round of the season in Malaysia and two pole positions in Thailand, the first time in the team’s history. Craft-Bamboo Racing heads to Japan with the aim of fighting for victory, and no stone has been left unturned in the preparation for rounds 5 and 6 at the famous historic track, the Suzuka Circuit.

The Season So Far

#55 Mercedes-AMG GT3
Melvin Moh and Daniel Au have made steady progress in the first two race weekends in Malaysia and Thailand. With the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia season being Au’s rookie season in the GT3 category, the learning curve has not been easy. However, good teamwork and guidance from AMG Academy Instructor Melvin Moh has meant that the pair have made significant steps forward with each weekend, and will be looking to score their first points of the season in Japan.

#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
Jeffrey Lee and Alessio Picariello have set the bar high this season, with Picariello proving his outright speed on track by topping the timesheets numerous times in practice and qualifying, scoring a pole-position for Race 1 in Thailand in addition to demonstrating exceptional race pace in his first season at the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG GT3. The pair of Lee and Picariello claimed victory in the opening race of the season, with Lee showing great adaptability in his switch to Mercedes-AMG. Expect to see the Taiwanese-Belgian pair fighting at the front again this weekend.

#99 Mercedes-AMG GT3
3-time Macau winner Darryl O’Young and back-to-back IMSA Champion Christina Nielsen have also shown their potential several times this year, with the pair finishing on the podium at the opening weekend in Sepang. Nielsen, who has had a strong start to the year, has often driven supremely to put the #99 car in shout of a top result. O’Young has also displayed the car’s potential, qualifying P1 for Race 2 in Thailand to score his first pole position of the season. O’Young has also shown his tenacity; going from 5th to 1st by the first corner in Malaysia, and the Danish-Hong Kong pair will be a force to be reckoned with this weekend.

#77 Mercedes-AMG GT4
2017 GT4 Champions Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin have gotten off to a strong start to the year in the GT4 class, having achieved 3 podiums in a row, including an outright class victory thus far this season. The French-Hong-Kong pair will be looking once again to fight at the front, and the balance-of-performance weight drop for the upcoming round in Suzuka means that Yu and Merlin will once again have high expectations going into the weekend.

Championship Standings
Craft-Bamboo Racing currently sit 4th in the overall GT3 Teams Championship, and 3rd in the GT4 Team standings.

The #88 J-Fly Racing pairing of Jeffrey Lee and Alessio Picariello sit in P10, with Christina Nielsen and Darryl O’Young in the #99 GT3 entry in 12th, and the #55 entry of Daniel Au and Melvin Moh sit in 24th place. Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin are in a highly competitive position for the GT4 class, finding themselves P2 in class standings after achieving their first win last time out in Buriram.

The Weekend Ahead
The weekend in Suzuka appears to be tricky, with changeable weather conditions ranging from 20 to 37 degrees over the weekend. There is also a high probability of rain, and this presents the ultimate challenge to the teams and the drivers, as tyre management and driving consistency will undoubtedly make the biggest difference. Unique to this weekend in Suzuka will be the test session on Thursday, 20 June, where Craft-Bamboo Racing will be using this opportunity to prepare for the hallmark Suzuka 10 Hour endurance race in August later this year.

Suzuka Schedule
Friday [21 June]
1300 – Free Practice 1
1610 – Free Practice 2

Saturday [22 June]
0800 – Official Practice
0940 – GT4 Qualifying
1027 – GT3 Qualifying
1540 – Race 1

Sunday [23 June]
1110 – Race 2

Practice begins on Friday at 1300hrs followed by the qualifying sessions on Saturday at 0940hrs. Race 1 begins at 1540hrs on Saturday, and Race 2 is at 1110hrs on Sunday. (All times in GMT +9) All the racing action will be available through the Live Stream at the GT World by SRO YouTube page here: https://www.youtube.com/user/gt1world

QUOTES

Daniel Au | Driver
#55 Mercedes-AMG GT3
"Going into this weekend in my third GT3 race in Thailand, and I feel that the progress that we've made over the last 2 rounds gives us a better chance scoring points! Looking forward to being back in the car with Melvin and to be with the team this weekend!"

Melvin Moh | Driver
#55 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“I'm really looking forward to getting back in the car and driving with Daniel once again. He has made big strides since and I'm sure he will make good progress again this time around. As it will be my first time in Buriram, my aim is to learn the track as quickly as possible and hopefully we will be able to fight at the front"

Alessio Picariello | Driver
#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Suzuka is definitely a special one and I feel really lucky to be able to race there again. I was on pole 2 years ago so it’s a circuit which are particularly like & therefore I’m really looking forward to see the potential of the Mercedes-AMG on this demanding track!"

Jeffrey Lee | Driver
#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
"After a challenging weekend in Buriram last time, Alessio and I have worked hard over the past few weeks to prepare ourselves fully going into this weekend at Suzuka. The circuit looks great and I can't wait to get back in the car! The goal is to score maximum points and hopefully to score another win!"

Darryl O’Young | Driver
#99 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Suzuka is always the highlight of the season for me as I really enjoy driving on this circuit. I've managed strong results here in the past, and now driving the Mercedes-AMG GT3, I have high expectations to deliver a solid race weekend. After Thailand, we have clearly identified areas where we must improve as our results didn't highlight our performance. Coming off a pole position in the last event, we hope to carry that momentum to get us back onto the podium. ”

Christina Nielsen | Driver
#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Really looking forward to it. I've driven it already on the simulator and it looks really challenging and fun, with lots of overtaking opportunities. It generally looks like a good challenge and I'm keen to get on track!”

Jean-Marc Merlin | Driver
#77 Mercedes-AMG GT3
"Frank and i have had a great start to the season, scoring 3 podiums in a row. I really love Japan, especially the Suzuka circuit and it looks like a fun challenge."

Frank Yu | Driver
#77 Mercedes-AMG GT3
"Excited to be back with Jean-Marc in Suzuka this weekend! We've come off the back of three podium finishes including a victory, and I have high expectations to be competitive here and to score maximum points for the season."