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Jordi Gene Victory Boosts Craft-Bamboo Lukoil into Championship Lead

Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil have taken the lead in the TCR International Teams’ championship after a successful weekend of points, led by Jordi Gene’s dominant race two victory at the Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore. His fellow compatriot and teammate, Pepe Oriola, was able to join him on the podium, with a third place finish in race two. The trio of drivers were able to claim a solid haul of points in race one, all finishing just outside of the podium with Oriola taking P4, Sergey Afanasyev P5 and Gene P6. When combined with their success in race two, this has allowed the Spanish pair to stay within close reach of the drivers’ championship title, with Oriola now only 11 points behind the title leader. Frank Yu, who was taking part in the TCR Asia series had the performance but suffered an unlucky weekend overall after qualifying P2 in class. After contact in race one, the Hong Kong driver was able to fight back and take P2 in the Asian Series. Unfortunately, he suffered cooling issues due to a blocked air intake which limited his performance in race two but he pushed hard and was able to claim P4.

Qualifying

Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil hit the tight, 4.5-km street circuit for the first qualifying session and all three drivers clocked up quick times that would see them through to the second session. Sergey Afanasyev was the lightest of the trio, free from the ballast that his two teammates were laden with. The touring car debutant was able to record a 2:26.740 on the Marina Bay Circuit which secured him P4 for race one.

Pepe Oriola was barely behind his Russian teammate and clocked a 2:26.760 which would see him line up in P5 for race one later that evening. Fellow Spanish driver, Jordi Gene, set a time of 2:27.294 to complete the second session and see him start in P9 for the first race. More importantly though, Gene would be starting on the front row in P2 for race two on Sunday, giving him a good chance to collect a podium.

Frank Yu was competing in the TCR Asia Series category and took to the track for his first qualifying session and immediately proved he was a force to be reckoned with, recording the second fastest time in his category with a 2:31.352. Frank would start the race from P14 with the TCR Asia Series competing with International Series for the first time.

Qualifying Results

1. S. COMINI SUI Q2: 2:26.404
2. G. MORBIDELLI ITA Q2: 2:26.420
3. K. GLEASON USA Q2: 2:26.724
4. S. AFANASYEV RUS Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil Q2: 2:26.740
5. P. ORIOLA ESP Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil Q2 2:26.760
9. J. GENE ESP Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil Q2: 2:27.29

14. F. YU HKG Craft-Bamboo Racing Q1: 2:31.352 (P2 in TCR Asia)

Qualifying Quotes

Pepe Oriola, Driver #74

“Little bit sad with qualifying today considering our pace yesterday, with the pace we had on the flying lap we could have been fighting for pole. I ran into traffic during my fastest lap, which prevented me from being able to set my best time but I am still in a good position to fight for both races though and I will do my best.”

Sergey Afanasyev, #77

“When I went for the first qualifying session my aim was to just get through and search for the braking points and get a good feel for the circuit. We were in the top 12 and for the second session I had to push and there was a good fight to get the best lap. I got P4 which I am happy with, I have to say thank you to the team for producing an amazing car.”

Jordi Gene, #88

“Very tough qualifying because I expected much more than P9, we had very good rhythm so it was a bit frustrating but I will be starting on the front row for race two. I still have a good chance to complete a good weekend, if I can collect some points in race one and concentrate on race two.”

Frank Yu, Craft-Bamboo Racing, #99 TCR Asia Series

“I was a little bit too eager on my first flying lap and flat spotted my tyre. I used a lap to cool off the tyres and pushed again, which put me back into P2. On the next lap I was three tenths up on sector one and then saw the yellow flag in sector two and that was it, I could have been half to eight tenths up but that’s racing. Being in P2 is not bad and we will see what happens tonight during the race.”

Race One

The first ever TCR International Series night race was underway and Oriola made a good start, moving up into P3 after the first few corners. Gene was able to make the jump on his opponents and take P8 with his teammate Afanasyev in P5 by the end of lap one. Frank Yu, suffered contact from behind on turn three and was spun around but he quickly regrouped and was back on the pace and chasing down the leaders in the TCR Asia Series.

Oriola was locked in a fierce battle with, Kevin Gleason, for P2 and made a brave overtaking maneuver around the outside but was unsuccessful and was forced into P4, his teammate Afanasyev following closely behind. By the third lap, Gene had made his move up into P7, fighting hard to move ahead of the competition.

With the grid now settled by lap five, Oriola was still hot on the tail of, Gianni Morbidelli, and was doing all he could to find a way past. Continuously pushing as the race progressed, overtaking was hard to come by on the narrow street circuit but Oriola was not giving up. Afanasyev was still pushing his teammate from behind and Gene was closing in on P6.

Lap six saw, Gene, make a brilliant move on, Mikhail Grachev, and file into the Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil formation with the trio now running P4, P5 and P6. Frank was picking up pace and was rapidly closing down his TCR Asian Series competitors, catching and overtaking with ease.

As the race entered its final stages, a fantastic scrap was taking place at the head of the field with Oriola still trying to snatch away P3 from Morbidelli. The intense battle was fought right up until the flag fell at the end of lap ten. Despite every attempt, Oriola couldn’t quite get past and took P4, with his teammates following in sequence. Their TCR Asia Series teammate, Frank, had recovered and clawed his way through the field with immense pace to take P2 in class.

Quotes

Pepe Oriola, Driver #74

“A little bit disappointed because when I was fighting for P2 I went on the wrong side of the track and I couldn’t keep my third position and I couldn’t overtake him (Morbidelli).I am looking forward to race two so I can get some points back.”

Sergey Afanasyev, Driver #77

“The race started well and we were all together at the finish so I believe the team work was good and we will keep fighting for the teams’ and drivers’ championship. I am happy with what I achieved; it was my first time on a city circuit with a FWD car. It was a great experience and the team did a great job because the car was perfect.”

Jordi Gene, Driver #88

“Happy because the rhythm was very good, I had a good start, but from ninth place it was hard to gain more than three places. The best thing is that I have rhythm for Sunday and this gave me confidence but we need to make sure we score points in both races.”

Frank Yu, Craft-Bamboo Racing, #99 TCR Asia Series

“Finished P2, had a really good start but in turn three I was tapped and spun around, picking up a lot of marbles which caused me to spin again shortly after. Took me about a lap to clean it up, the team called me and said I was catching the guys ahead by about six seconds a lap and to not give up. So I pushed and took several places and in the end was able to take home P2.”

Race One Results

1. K. GLEASON USA
2. S. COMINI SUI
3. G. MORBIDELLI ITA
4. ORIOLA ESP Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil
5. S. AFANASYEV RUS SEAT Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil
6. J. GENE ESP Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil

TCR Asia

P2. 99 F. YU HKG Craft-Bamboo Racing - (P16 overall)

Race Two

The lights went out to mark the start of race two and Gene was off to a flying start, making a daring move into the first corner to successfully take the lead. Fellow Spaniard, Oriola, held his own as the grid madly jostled for position into the opening few corners but was able to take P5 before the end of lap one. Frank had made a clean start and was leading the TCR Asia Series in what was looking to be a promising challenge from the Hong Kong driver.

By the third lap, Oriola was already on the offensive, having overtaken, Lorenzo Veglia, to move into P3, while also furiously defending an attacking Comini. Teammate Gene was already building up a small lead over the entire grid, utilizing the clean air ahead to maximize his victory challenge.

Frank was looking like a strong contender for the win but began to drop back by the fifth lap, his pace dwindling. It would later be discovered that leaves were blocking the cooling system which caused the engine to lose power and destroy Frank’s hopes for a win. The TCR Asia series driver didn’t lose his determination and kept his foot down in the hopes of still taking home a good result.

By lap five, Gene’s lead was a commanding 3.5 seconds and Oriola was able to pull away slightly from those behind. Afanasyev was moving up the field and was able to take P9 away from, Loris Hezemans. As the race progressed, Comini began to close in on Oriola who took a defensive role to shut down any advances by the Swiss driver.

Unfortunately in the closing laps of the race, Comini was able to get by Oriola, his car suffering some damage from earlier contact with Tomas Engstrom. The young driver still had the pace to take back P3 from, Mikhail Grachev, on lap nine and continue his hunt for rival, Comini. Afanasyev was having a good run until an overtaking maneuver resulted in race ending contact for the Russian driver.

Gene finished the race with a 3.6 second lead after driving a flawless ten laps, his teammate Oriola taking the third step of the podium after his hard fought challenge. Their points haul contributing greatly to Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil’s teams’ championship takeover while still keeping them in contention for the drivers’ title. Frank was able to complete the race and take P4 in the TCR Asia Series class even with his limited performance, which showed his developing skill as a new touring car driver.

Race Two Results
J. GENE ESP Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil
S. COMINI SUI
P. ORIOLA ESP Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil
G. MORBIDELLI ITA
K. GLEASON USA
TCR Asia

P4. 99 F. YU HKG Craft-Bamboo Racing - (P14 overall)

DNF S. AFANASYEV RUS SEAT Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil

Quotes

Pepe Oriola, Driver #74

“Happy to get the podium, but a little disappointed because I had contact with Engstrom and this affected my steering so I couldn’t resist the attacks from Comini. It is looking good for Thailand and, hopefully we can arrive in Macau leading the championship.”

Sergey Afanasyev, Driver #77

“It was an unfortunate end to my weekend as I was involved with some contact towards the end of the race and the resulting damage caused me to retire. I am looking forward to the next round in Thailand for another new circuit and the chance to score some more points and keep us in the teams’ championship lead.

Jordi Gene, Driver #88

“I am very happy with the race win, we have achieved a fantastic result and this keeps us in the fight for the drivers’ championship. Hopefully we can continue to get good results and be in the fight for the season finale in Macau.”

Frank Yu, Craft-Bamboo Racing, #99 TCR Asia Series

“Today I started from P1 and had a really good start and was comfortably in P1 for four laps with a really good margin but later on found out that a bunch of leaves were blocking the air intake and stopped cooling to the engine so I lost power. I lost a few positions and ended up finishing in P4, so that was the end of the race. It is really disappointing because I would have won the race quite comfortably.”

Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing

“It was great to see the TCR International and Asian Series coming together and competing at this fantastic circuit in support of the Formula One Grand Prix. Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil are now leading the teams’ championship and still within close reach of the drivers’ title. We are now focused on the next round in Thailand where we will be aiming to take the lead in both championships.”