3rd Place in the overall GT4 class for Craft-Bamboo Racing in 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia


-    Jeffrey Lee and Alessio Picariello earn hard-fought victory in GT3 Pro-Am

-    Craft-Bamboo Racing finishes 2019 season with 10 podiums in across GT3 and GT4 categories

-    Jean-Marc Merlin seals 3rd place in the GT4 championship

-    Craft-Bamboo Racing placed 5th in the overall GT3 Team’s Championship


Craft-Bamboo Racing’s #88 pair of Jeffrey Lee and Alessio Picariello bounced back in remarkable fashion after a difficult start to the weekend to score 2nd place overall in Race 2, and the win in the Pro-Am class after a thrilling, race-long battle for position. Darryl O’Young and Christina Nielsen finished P4 in the Silver Cup for Race 2 after a clean weekend that saw no mistakes from both drivers, and Melvin Moh and Daniel Au made great strides with each passing session to end the weekend on a high.


This strong end to the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia means that Craft-Bamboo Racing finish 5th place in the overall GT3 Team’s Championship, with 2 outright victories, 3 Pro-Am wins and 4 Pole Positions.  In the GT4 class, Craft-Bamboo Racing displayed the race-winning potential of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 by sealing 3rd place after a strong campaign with a mix of drivers, scoring 3 class wins and a total of 6 podiums. 


QUALIFYING RESULTS

#55 Mercedes-AMG GT3

Qualifying 1 | P23 – 2:17.279 – Daniel Au

Qualifying 2 | P10 – 2:05.836 – Melvin Moh

#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3

Qualifying 1 | P17 – 2:08.649 – Jeffrey Lee

Qualifying 2 | P1 – 2:05.516 – Alessio Picariello

#99 Mercedes-AMG GT3

Qualifying 1 | P14 – 2:08.349 – Christina Nielsen

Qualifying 2 | P16 – 2:06.229 – Darryl O’Young

#77 Mercedes-AMG GT4

Qualifying 1 | P4 – 2:18.874 – Jean-Marc Merlin

Qualifying 2 | P6 – 2:24.060 – Douglas Khoo


RACE 1


#99 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Darryl O’Young & Christina Nielsen

Starting P14 was going to be a tricky for Christina Nielsen, being right in the mid-field. At the first corner, Nielsen took a cautious line and avoided the chaos further up ahead. Despite the Shanghai circuit being notoriously difficult to pass due to the mix of corners, Nielsen managed to find her way past several cars during her stint, working her way up to 10th by the pit-stops. The young Dane kept the pace on, and kept a close gap for her teammate O’Young to make progress later on after the pit window.


Darryl O’Young took over from 10th position, and his great pace on the out-lap meant that he was still in the mix after the pit window. During his stint, the close proximity to other cars meant that he was busy attacking whilst having to defend. O’Young continued to push in a bid to make some progress, but tyre degradation meant that he was unable to find an opportunity to get past, eventually crossing the line in P13, just ahead of the sister #88 entry. 


#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Jeffrey Lee & Alessio Picariello

Jeffrey Lee started the race for the #88 car from 17th, and good reactions meant that he narrowly avoided a huge crash with a spinning car up ahead. Lee quickly set his sights on gaining positions, but several laps later, contact from behind spun him around, dropping him to the back of the field. Lee then pitted from 25th place to hand the car over to Alessio Picariello.


When Picariello took over, he knew that he had a pace advantage on the cars in front. He pushed hard, and proceeded to battle his way past the slower traffic. Despite the compromised track position from the contact early on in the race, Picariello had battles throughout the whole of his stint. Picariello eventually crossed the line in P14. Despite the result, the engineers had data in a bid to find a better setup for Race 2.


#55 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Daniel Au & Melvin Moh

A crash in qualifying meant that Daniel Au started at the back for Race 1. Starting 23rd place meant that it was going to be an uphill battle, but Au’s consistent driving meant he improved with every lap in his stint. Au managed to keep out of trouble handed over to teammate Melvin Moh with 35 minutes to go. 


When Moh took over the controls, the #55 entry was a lap down, and he set his sights on gaining some track position during his stint. Despite pushing hard and being on front running pace, Moh was not able to reduce the deficit and eventually crossed the line in 21st position.


#77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Jean-Marc Merlin & Douglas Khoo

After a facing an issue in qualifying that saw Jean-Marc Merlin qualify in P4, the veteran GT driver got off to an excellent start.  The Frenchman was aggressive around the outside of turn 1 and incredibly, had fought his way up to 1st position at the end of the opening lap. Merlin then showed strong pace at the front of the GT4 field, and had built up a substantial gap of over 20 seconds by the pit-stops.


When Malaysian Douglas Khoo took over, he was put under immense pressure from behind. Racing the Mercedes-AMG GT4 for the first time, Khoo drove a measured stint and kept it clean whilst managing the traffic. Khoo made no mistakes, and eventually finished the #77 car’s race in 5th position in class.


RACE 2


#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Jeffrey Lee & Alessio Picariello

Belgian young gun Alessio Picariello started P4 amongst the other pro drivers, and immediately got his elbows out at the start. Despite being nudged from behind, Picariello muscled his way past gaining one position. On the back of the 2nd placed Lamborghini for many laps. Flawless pitwork from the crew meant that the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 managed to jump the 2nd placed car in the pits.


Lee had his work cut out for him after the pit-stop window, as the top 6 cars were locked together in a multi-way battle for position. Despite being placed under immense pressure right after the pit-stops from behind, Lee produced yet another defensive masterclass, placing his Mercedes-AMG GT3 perfectly on track to hold off the attacks from the chasing pack. In the final two laps, Lee firmly shut the door on several attempts to pass, and eventually crossed the line in 2nd place overall, and taking victory in the Pro-Am category.


#55 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Daniel Au & Melvin Moh

Melvin Moh started the race for the #55 car in P9 after a compromised qualifying. kept out of trouble at the start, and immediately focused his attention on gaining position. In the first two laps of his stint, Moh managed to find a way past and moved up one position. A safety car closed the gaps up to the pack ahead which gave him prime opportunity to make moves up the field. The Malaysian ace drove a solid stint, and handed the car to teammate Daniel Au from P6.


When Moh pitted and handed the car to teammate Daniel Au, fast pit-work from the team gave a gap for Au to work with. In the entirety of his stint, Au kept the car clean and worked on getting consistent lap times. With the faster Pro traffic coming through from behind, Au was under pressure and delivered a clean stint, crossing the line in 18th position, scoring points in the Pro-Am category.


#99 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Darryl O’Young & Christina Nielsen

Darryl O’Young started the race for the #99 Mercedes-AMG GT3 from 15th place on the grid, and immediately set his sights on gaining position. His aggressive start meant he moved up to P12 on the first lap. A safety car was called early in the stint, and the gaps were reduced even more. When the race resumed, O’Young was all over the back of the Ferrari in front, and ducked and dived as he searched for an opportunity to pass. However, he was not able to find a way past on the fast Shanghai circuit, and handed the car over to teammate Christina Nielsen from 12th position. 


A flawless pit-stop from the team meant that Nielsen was still in the fight after the pit-stop window. Continuing the battle from 12th, she worked her way through the field with confidence. Great consistency meant that Nielsen had made her way up to 10th place within the first 5 laps of her stint. With her pace advantage of the cars in front, Nielsen closed up the gaps in a bid to find a way past. But with the tyres being past their prime, she was not able to find a way past and crossed the finish line in 9th position, and 4th in the Silver Cup. 


#77 Mercedes-AMG GT4 | Jean-Marc Merlin & Douglas Khoo

Douglas Khoo started from P6 in class after an issue in qualifying, and had set his sights on making good progress from the pace shown in Race 1. However, on the opening lap, Khoo lost the rear end of the car at the high-speed turn 6, and unfortunately, the damage sustained meant that the car had to be retired prematurely.


QUOTES


Jeffrey Lee | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3

“This week was a bit up and down, in the practice we were struggling as the car didn’t fully suit the track well. In Race 1 we were lucky to avoid a huge crash but got spun around in the end. But for Race 2 we fought back and the car worked well after getting on top of several things. Car felt good and it gave me a lot of confidence and allowed me to fight at the front. Thanks to Alessio for handing the car to me in a good position, and thanks to the team for doing a great job the whole season, for solving problems when we had them and coming out with a better car every time."


Alessio Picariello | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3

“It was a tough start to the weekend, with Jeffrey being spun around in Race 1 after a difficult qualifying. For Race 2, my engineer and I took a gamble with the setup and it looked like it paid off. Starting in a strong position from P4 I had a good start but then was stuck behind the 2nd placed Lamborghini. A flawless pit-stop from the team meant that we jumped the Lamborghini in the pit-stop. Jeffrey then did an awesome job, putting the car exactly where he had to, to score 2nd overall and P1 in Pro-Am. It’s the best we could have imagined on this weekend. Overall for the season, I’m really happy with my first year with Craft-Bamboo Racing and with Mercedes-AMG. I love the team; the atmosphere is really good. I have a really good car crew and I love the relationship I have with the engineers; we always make positive gains with the way we work together. Really happy to have driven with Jeffrey we had a strong season winning 2 overall victories and 3 pro-am class wins.”


Darryl O’Young | Driver #99 Mercedes-AMG GT3

“It’s been a good weekend, despite struggling a bit with tyre degradation in both races. Despite this, I had good battles every lap during my entire stint in Race 1. In Race 2 we made an improvement, but it was still not the result we wanted. Overall it good weekend of racing and a nice way to finish the season. I’ve had an enjoyable season driving with Christina and I think we have some highlights and good results although we’d have liked a bit more consistency. But all-in-all a good first year driving the Mercedes-AMG GT3.”


Christina Nielsen | Driver #99 Mercedes-AMG GT3

“It was good weekend overall; the Shanghai Circuit looks like there are a few passing opportunities but it’s actually really hard because a lot of the corners that lead up to those places are medium to high speed corners where downforce is important and it was tough to stay close. Despite showing strong pace I was stuck behind cars in my stints. Nevertheless, I’d like to thank the team for the year, and it was good to finish the season with a clean weekend.”


Daniel Au | Driver #55 Mercedes-AMG GT3

“I’d like to thank Craft-Bamboo Racing, it’s been an awesome year doing the full season with all 6 rounds. I’ve learnt many things with all the experiences throughout the year, working through different challenges. and it was a great weekend again with Melvin driving, hats off to him for topping free practice but I didn’t manage to get on the pace on my end. I’ll work hard during the off-season and already looking forward for next year!”


Melvin Moh | Driver #55 Mercedes-AMG GT3

“Weekend was good up to qualifying, unfortunately Daniel had a small crash at the last corner which affected the car quite a bit and we didn’t have time to fix it before my run. It is what it is, and I did okay with the circumstances. In Race 1 we struggled with the pace towards the end; I got stuck in the dirty air of the car in front and couldn’t pass. Race 2 today was good, but I also got stuck behind another car after making some progress. I’d like to thank Craft-Bamboo Racing for trusting me this season and for bringing me to the team. Big thanks to Daniel for believing in me and giving me the chance, and let’s see what happens for 2020!”


Jean-Marc Merlin | Driver #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3

The season was interesting, some ups and down, obviously skipping Korea for family reasons meant that I could not fight for the championship. Unfortunately, we had to retire in Race 2 today which was a shame, but I think it’s been an interesting season, it will be my last in GT4 and I need to go to quicker cars now so hoping for different things next year.


Douglas Khoo | Driver #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3

I’d like to thank Craft-Bamboo Racing for the weekend, unfortunately I’ve not been able to drive the car well, I wasn’t comfortable and in Race 2 I put it in the wall. All in all, it’s a car I think I need to learn how to drive with more seat time, but I really enjoyed the weekend with the team.”

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