Craft-Bamboo Racing took a hard fought Blancpain GT Series Asia podium this past weekend during race one at Suzuka, securing them their first GT3 podium of the 2018 season. Shae Davies and Sandy Stuvik put in a flawless performance from P4 to score their best finish of the season so far and re-ignite their championship campaign. Unfortunately, the rest of the team suffered from bad luck in race one, with Darryl O’Young being taken out from P8, prematurely ending his and teammate Aidan Read’s race. Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin fared no better in race one, with a tyre puncture early on putting them too far behind to catch the lead in their new Mercedes-AMG GT4. Race two brought more positives though, with the #911 Porsche of Stuvik and Davies further exhibiting excellent pace to take P5 from P10, giving them a generous selection of points to take home. The #991 car superbly battled damage from Saturday’s race to break into the points with a P10 finish, up an incredible nine places. Both Yu and Merlin were back on the pace and onto the podium in race two with a P3 finish, salvaging a tough weekend to keep them in the fight to defend their GT4 title from third in the standings.
P4 – Shae Davies (#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R) - 02:03.090
P12 – Aidan Read (#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R) - 02:04.095
P3 (GT4) – Frank Yu (Mercedes-AMG GT4) - 02:16.605
P10 – Sandy Stuvik (#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R) - 02:02.934
P19 – Darryl O’Young (#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R) - 02:04.510
P4 (GT4) – Jean-Marc Merlin (Mercedes-AMG GT4) - 02:16.903
#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R
Shae Davies made a strong rolling start from P4 and was able to capitalize on his pace by taking P3 shortly after. From here, Davies was rock solid in his consistency and was able to keep pace with the lead cars for the rest of his stint. The Australian was managing to lap within a second of P1 and this kept the #911 Porsche tantalizingly close as the pit window opened for his change to teammate, Sandy Stuvik. After a faultless pitstop, Stuvik was back in the fight and he managed to undercut the competition and join the race in P2, directly behind the lead car. The #911 driver put in his best stint of the season so far, consistently nailing each lap despite the pressure from behind. Stuvik was impeccable behind the wheel and brought the Porsche home only 0.87s behind P1 to take a well deserved second place podium.
#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R
Aidan Read made the most of his race one start from P12, managing to snatch two places by the end of the first lap. Read had the pace to fight and he got stuck into some big battles from his now P10 position. He then began to make his move up the field, picking off the competition over the course of his stint to move into P7 as the pit window opened. In the hopes of maximizing his stint, Read stayed out on track before pitting near the close of the pit window. This allowed O’Young to join the race in P8 and begin his challenge to the chequered flag. O’Young found himself in a hotly contested part of the field and fought hard to maintain his position. With less than 15 minutes remaining though, O’Young was looking strong in P8 but was hit from behind by the #7 Audi, before being further t-boned by the #37 Audi. This prematurely ended the race for the #991 Porsche, which had to retire with extensive suspension damage.
#77 Mercedes-AMG GT4
Frank Yu was in a good position to make the most of his first stint in the new Mercedes-AMG GT4 and was in P4 after the field had corrected itself following the rolling start. Unfortunately, this position was short lived as a right-front tyre puncture forced Yu to make a slow in-lap for an unscheduled pitstop. With Yu in last place, he did his best to claw back ground but was later handed an infringement for speeding in the pitlane. His teammate, Jean-Marc Merlin would later serve the drive through penalty during his stint, keeping them in P8 in the GT4 class for the entirety of the race. It was not all bad though, as the #77 pair used the hour-long sprint race to get accustomed to their new car and prepare for Sunday’s race two.
#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R
Sandy Stuvik made a magnificent start from P10 in race two, catapulting him into P7 during the first half of lap one. However, the car suffered some damage from contact, which would hurt the #911’s overall pace throughout the race. A subsequent safety car then bunched up the field before a green flag got the race underway again with 50 minutes remaining. Stuvik held his own on the green flag and was focused on furthering his position. He put his head down and pushed hard, closing in on and claiming P6 just before another safety car was called out and the pit window opened. Stuvik came in early to change to Davies, who was able to re-join the race in P8 behind the safety car after undergoing their additional 10 second success penalty. With 26 minutes remaining, the race restarted once more and Davies kept his position, maintaining the pace to keep the #991 Porsche in the fight. However, a third and final safety car for the day would slow the field down once again before releasing them with seven minutes left. Davies was able to capitalize on other competitors’ mistakes and slip into P5 with a few laps remaining. While he was within reach of the competition, Davies didn’t have the time to make a move and crossed the line in P5 to secure another good haul of points to end their weekend.
#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R
Darryl O’Young had a challenge ahead of him after starting the race from P19 in the #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R. The experienced Porsche driver made the most of the chaotic start to take a significant bite out of the field and move up to P14. After the first safety car period, O’Young began to feel the effects of yesterday’s incident and suffered a reduction in pace from the residual damage. After slipping back to P20 he was able to find his way up to P17 as he pitted to Aidan Read. Read then made a good jump on his opponents during the pit window and safety car period, finding his way into P12 as the race was restarted for the second time. The Australian driver had to work hard but he ran a strong stint to break into the top ten with five minutes remaining. A last lap battle almost clinched P9 but it wasn’t to be and Read finished P10 to give the #991 Porsche their first points finish of the season.
#77 Mercedes-AMG GT4
Jean-Marc Merlin took off from P3 in the GT4 class, holding his own before the first safety car held up his progress. After slipping down to P4 where he would run for the rest of his stint, Merlin handed over to Frank Yu during the second safety car period. Yu was able to make the most of the race restart and grab P2 with 25 minutes left. Yu put in a quick stint in the new car, defending his P2 position until the race's final moments. While he dropped down to P3, he did not give up and took the fight right to the flag, finishing only 0.4s behind P2 to claim their fifth podium of the season.
Russell O’Hagan, Operations Director of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“I am really pleased this weekend’s results have finally reflected the efforts of the team and the drivers. Huge congratulations go to Sandy, Shae, and their engineer, Matt, for their constant commitment to racing smart. It’s been the same approach all season but the increased performance from the car this weekend enabled the rewards to be bigger. A frustrating weekend for the #991 car of Aidan and Darryl where some bad luck in race one ruined a promising run. The mechanics worked hard overnight to repair the car and with a run from 20th to 10th, the drivers showed what they can do. I am excited to see what they can deliver in Fuji.”
Sandy Stuvik, #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“I’m incredibly happy with today, we had an excellent engineering and pit stop strategy which put us in contention for the win, and all the work the team has done has really paid off. My teammate Shae had a great first stint to put us up to P3, and I could also benefit from our fast pit stop to take P2. This has been a huge step in the right direction, and we aim to continue like this!”
“I had some contact with an Audi today which hurt our performance, we would have had the pace to make the podium which is frustrating but that’s racing. I just focused on maintaining the pace and Shae did a great job in his stint to recover the 10 second success penalty we got, so to finish P5 feels like a great way to round off a solid weekend by the team. I can’t wait for Fuji!”
Shae Davies, #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“I am absolutely over the moon with the second-place result today. A true team effort. To have scored such a great result on merit, without weather intervention or similar is a true credit to Craft-Bamboo, PORSCHE, our engineer, Matt, and all the guys and girls in our team. I was happy with my stint managing to climb to third from our fourth place start and maintained good pace throughout. We had a bit of understeer in my stint but our engineer, Matt, managed to tune that out for Sandy’s run to the chequered flag. Fantastic day. Thank you!”
“I am very happy with today’s race two result and the weekend overall. Sandy suffered some damage from contact on the opening lap and we had to nurse the car right through the race. Despite this we managed to pass a few cars and bring the car home in fifth. I believe without the damage we could have made the podium so that shows some real progress for car #911. I am extremely proud of the team and everyone involved. I cannot wait for Fuji in three weeks.”
Darryl O’Young, #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“Race one was tough because we had a shot at a better result. Even after Aidan’s excellent stint, and we were running in P8, I took over and we had the pace to hold the position, but I got hit by another car and spun around before getting t-boned. That was our race over, but it also did a lot of damage to the car, which affected us going into race two.”
“The team worked through the night to get the car repaired for today’s race two, so thank you to the team for their effort. Unfortunately, there were some teething issues and the car was not 100 percent today. Aidan was good today and we had some good strategy with the safety car. We finished in the points so that was a positive, but I feel we could have had better results this weekend, but we now look forward to Fuji.”
Aidan Read, #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“A character building day on the #991 side today. The performance in qualifying wasn’t where I expected it to be, which set us back for stint one. I did my best to put the car in to the points before contact ended our race during Darryl’s stint. Congratulations to #911 for their execution today, it is great to see a Porsche on the podium. We will make the right step tomorrow and race up the grid.”
“Today (Sunday) we made a good recovery drive from P20 to P10. I really enjoyed pushing hard up the field with close battles. We overcame some residual problems from yesterday to take points, which is a good way to end the weekend. I am proud of the effort from Craft-Bamboo this weekend and I am happy to have seen great potential in the Porsche.”
Frank Yu, #77 Mercedes-AMG GT4
“Our race was a bit of a disaster. We had a slower GT3 in the middle of the GT4 pack and we were battling hard but in lap four I was punted off coming out of the last corner. This caused a puncture and from there it was a downward spiral, but we look to fight back in race two.”
“The safety car basically ruined our race. Jean-Marc did a really good job following the lead cars, and we jumped two positions to P2. I was hunting down the P1 car until the safety car came out and then the other Mercedes managed to overtake the both of us and we finished P3.”
Jean-Marc Merlin, #77 Mercedes-AMG GT4
“After the issues during Frank’s stint, I took over in last place and was quite far behind, so race one turned into a live practice session, which will be very helpful for the next few rounds.”
“The race two start was quite fun but the many safety cars broke the rhythm. I made the right call not pitting right away under the second safety car and this let the other GT4s through and I could gain some ground on an empty track. Unfortunately, we were not as lucky on the next safety car. I am looking forward to coming back to Japan soon for Fuji.”