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Victory for Jeffrey Lee and Alessio Picariello at the inaugural Asia GT Festival

For Immediate Distribution
18 March 2019

Victory for Jeffrey Lee and Alessio Picariello at the inaugural Asia GT Festival
Frank Yu and Malaysian Hero Jazeman Jaafar finish 2nd in front of home crowd at Sepang

Craft-Bamboo Racing started the first race weekend of 2019 in style, with Alessio Picariello and Jeffrey Lee in the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 victorious on Sunday, while Frank Yu and Malaysian racing star Jazeman Jaafar in the sister #77 car finish 2nd after an enthralling battle which saw Jaafar challenging for the win during the entire second half of the opening race on Saturday, but unable to find a way past.

Qualifying Results
Qualifying 1
#77 |[P4] Frank Yu – 2:03.041
#88 |[P2] Alessio Picariello – 2:02.470

Qualifying 2
#77 |[P4] Jazeman Jaafar – 2:03.041
#88 |[P6] Jeffrey Lee – 2:05.514

RACE 1 | SATURDAY

#77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Jazeman Jaafar & Frank Yu
Frank Yu started the race for the #77 in P4, and was in the mix with the pro drivers but quickly found himself settling into a rhythm despite being the amateur driver. The Hong Kong race driver defended admirably, and got involved in several close battles dicing for position for the remainder of his stint. During the safety car period the team elected to pit the #77 first, and when Jazeman Jaafar took over, he emerged P4.

Jaafar pulled off a few spectacular overtakes in the ensuing laps, and reeled in the leading BMW at a rapid pace. He then spent the last 20 minutes completely on the back bumper of the leader. Jaafar attempted to overtake several times with some heart stopping moves with slight contact which resulted in a puncture the final lap. Despite only driving on three wheels, Jaafar dragged the car across the line and finished P2, giving the team its first podium with Mercedes-AMG.

#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Jeffrey Lee & Alessio Picariello
At the start of Race 1, Picariello got the jump on the lead BMW going into turn 1 and was immediately on the pace, building a commanding gap to the following pack. The #88 was leading the race right up the safety car period, but got unlucky with the timing. Unfortunately the safety car came in much earlier than expected, and Picariello dropped down the order as a result.

When Lee took over driving duties, he emerged from the pit-lane in P9, and staged a comeback and sought to make up for lost ground. The Taiwanese driver showed great skill and racecraft throughout his stint, moving back up through the field and was challenging for 4th before running out of time and crossing the line in 5th place.

RACE 2 | SUNDAY

#77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Jazeman Jaafar & Frank Yu
After a hard fought first race on Saturday, Jaafar and Yu were determined to do one better and fight for the win. However at the start, Jaafar was involved in a lap one incident that resulted in front-end damage of his Mercedes-AMG GT3. He was forced to pit to repair the damage, which unfortunately dropped him to the back of the field. In the ensuing laps, the Malaysian decisively sliced through the traffic, putting bold moves around the outside of other competitors and made his way back up to 7th. On lap 12, Jaafar pitted and handed the car to Yu.

When Yu emerged from the pits, he found himself in P9, and set to work fighting through the field. Within 2 laps, he caught the back of the pack of cars in front and pursued his charge in an attempt to recover from the earlier incident at the start of the race. After dicing for position for the remainder of the race, Yu brought the car home in P6; a solid recovery drive from both him and Jaafar after the first lap incident.

#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Jeffrey Lee & Alessio Picariello
Jeffrey Lee started the race for the #88 car after qualifying in P6, and did well to avoid the start-line drama which involved two cars ahead. He then got his head down and drove perfectly to the team’s strategy of maintaining the gap to the cars in front. Despite several audacious passing attempts from the car behind, Lee drove superbly, giving space whilst keeping his position. A safety car period then gave the team an opportunity to switch the drivers.

When Picariello emerged from the pits, he was in P3 and in similar fashion to his first race of the weekend by being immediately on the pace. He pushed the Mercedes-AMG hard through Sepang’s fast sweeping corners, and decisively got past the 2nd place car. After setting several fastest laps in a row, Picariello caught the leader and wasted no time sending it around the outside to take the lead of the race. However towards the end, Picariello suffered some handling issues which compromised his pace. A late safety car meant that his 27 second lead was diminished to just 3 seconds, but Picariello tenaciously held on to his lead, crossing the line just 0.6 seconds ahead of the second placed car to take the team’s first win of the season.

Overall it was a great weekend for the team, turning great potential into results on track in both races thanks to the quality of the drivers in Craft-Bamboo Racing’s stable. Although it was the first time for the team running the Mercedes-AMG GT3 package, the engineers and mechanics showed their adaptability and had no issues with the new cars. The team’s spirits are high, and will be looking to carry this race-winning momentum into the upcoming motorsport season!

QUOTES

Jazeman Jaafar | Driver #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Overall I’m feeling happy with the positive outcome from a strong weekend. Qualifying was a factor of improvement but otherwise we had strong race pace and we were fighting amongst the leaders. Frank did a great job in both races and I hope we can score more points in the future. In race 2 we got a bit unlucky to get involved with incidents, but that didn’t let the team down and it shows how strong we can be in this championship.”

Frank Yu | Driver #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“We began the weekend with a shakedown test on Thursday and the car was running perfect out of the box. Going into qualifying on Friday I felt it was pretty much on pace, and managed to put the car P4. I started the race on Saturday, holding off the pro drivers and Jazeman was just unlucky to have a puncture at the end but still managed to roll the car across the line to finish P2. In Race 2, we were unfortunate to sustain damage after being tangled with another car at the start, so we had to serve a few penalties. I made a few overtakes but it was hard to catch by that time.

Very happy because our sister #88 car won today’s race, and the team were on the podium both Saturday and Sunday! Great to have the prime minister visit our pit-box, and Jazeman was a top-notch driver. Thanks to the team and Mercedes-AMG for giving us such a good car, and EWS Spamobil for their great support!”

Jeffrey Lee | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“When I took over the car in Race 1, I was surprised with the pace and performance of the car because I could push quite confidently but had some bad luck with the timing of safety car periods. In race 2, the strategy was for me to keep the gap to the leaders as close as possible, and when Alessio took over he performed some great passing moves to ultimately take the win. The team did a great job considering it was the first time with Mercedes-AMG and hopefully we will achieve all our goals and good results in the coming season!”

Alessio Picariello | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Overall a great weekend, first time for the team with the Mercedes-AMG. We had great pace but bad luck in race 1, which ruined our race. In race 2 we had some issues towards the end but we were lucky with the safety car.
Also really happy that Jeffrey drove a solid stint, improving with every session. Happy for the team and it shows that there’s plenty of potential for the future so really optimistic for the year ahead!”

Darryl O’Young | Director of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“We’re really happy with the weekend, a win and a second place was more than we expected coming here for the first time with the Mercedes-AMG. Altogether there’s still a lot to learn and improve on this season, but it was a great start and we’re going to keep working hard as we approach the coming season. Thank you to EWS Spamobil, EWS gTronix 360 and EWS Mcchip for the support, and congratulations to the drivers and the team for a great weekend!”