Hong Kong team finish P8 overall after 12 hours of endurance racing at Mount Panorama
A spin in the final hour drops the #77 MSI-backed Mercedes-AMG GT3 out of the top 5
The 2023 season of the globe-trotting Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli kicked off on the 3rd of February 2023 with the Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour at the world-famous Mount Panorama Circuit. After 12 hours of gruelling endurance racing on one of the most challenging racetracks in the world, Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing took the checkered flag in P8 overall. It was a difficult weekend for the team and despite the trio of Daniel Juncadella, Philip Ellis and Nicky Catsburg feeling good in the race car, the car ultimately lacked speed compared to the leaders, struggling to match their ultimate pace. Through good strategy and teamwork, the team was set to take a comfortable top-5 finish with 30 minutes to go, however, an unlucky spin caused by debris on the race track, dropped the team down the order crossing the finish line in P8, the position where they started the race.
The MSI-liveried red and chrome black Mercedes-AMG GT3 lined up on the fourth row of the starting grid in the dark early hours of Sunday morning. The 12 Hour started strong for the Pro entry from Hong Kong, running strongly within the top 10 and maintaining position. The crew was put on the back foot when some confusion during a Safety Car restart at the 2.5-hour mark put the #77 nearly a lap down. Nonetheless, consistent stints from all 3 drivers ensured the Hong Kong squad fought its way back into contention and solidly in the top 5 at the halfway mark. Despite this, the MSI machine lacked the outright pace to contend with the leaders which hurt the team’s efforts in the second half as the race ran for a record-breaking green flag period of nearly 5 hours, not presenting any opportunities to the team to try different strategies. As a result, this year's Bathurst 12 Hour became the longest and fastest one in the event’s history.
With under an hour to go, Juncadella was clocking in impressive lap times to hold down P5 overall on the lead lap, comfortably within striking distance had the race been neutralized in the closing stages. However, about 30 minutes from the end the Spaniard was caught out by some debris on the penultimate corner, causing him to spin and hit the wall. Forced to pit for unscheduled repairs, the team lost 2 laps and eventually took the checkered flag in P8.
Craft-Bamboo Racing would like to thank all its partners, MSI for an incredible-looking car design and Theodore Racing, Hong Kong Asia Medical Group, Gravity, Evisu and FreeM for their continued support. The team will be back again next year to make another attempt to conquer the mountain!
Darryl O’Young | Team Director, Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing
“Overall I’m happy with how the week went and the team’s execution of the event. Everyone worked hard and put together another faultless weekend on strategy and operation. In the end, this is what we strive for and this weekend, a few things just didn’t go our way. I want to thank our sponsors for the support including our title partner MSI and our ongoing partnership with Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing and Theodore Racing. A tough result only motivates the team to return stronger next year, we will be back.”
Daniel Juncadella | Driver, #77 Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3
“It was a difficult weekend all around. We lacked top speed all week and we couldn’t really sort it. Other than that the team was great as usual and so were my teammates. They did not put one foot wrong. But we just didn't have the outright pace for a better result, which is disappointing and needs investigating for future races.”
Philip Ellis | Driver, #77 Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3
“It was amazing to finally experience this legendary track together with Craft-Bamboo. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach our targets this time. The team, Dani and Nicky did a great job nevertheless and I hope to be back for some unfinished business next year”
Nicky Catsburg | Driver, #77 Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3
“It was a tough race for us. We never really had the pace as the front runners. Dani definitely came close, he was super fast in the car - that was a bit promising, but we were always just a little bit behind, so it was tough for us. However, it was very nice to work with the team; with Dani, Philip and Matt, the engineer, it was a really cool experience. Hopefully, we can do more in the future and go for some better results.”