High expectations as Craft-Bamboo Racing heads to Korea for the penultimate round of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia Mercedes-AMG Factory Driver Maximilian Goetz joins Jeffrey Lee in the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Experienced GT driver Richard Wee returns to the series alongside Frank Yu in the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT4
After a strong showing at Fuji Speedway in June that saw Craft-Bamboo Racing score a podium result in GT3 and victory in GT4, the team heads to Yeongam, Korea with confidence of fighting at the front again. It has been a long waited return to the Korea International Circuit, which has given the team much to celebrate over the years including two pole-positions, an overall victory, and several podium finishes in GT3. For this round, Mercedes-AMG factory driver Maximilian Goetz will join Craft-Bamboo Racing’s line-up in place of Alessio Picariello, whom will be back with the team in #88 at the season finale in Shanghai. Experienced Singaporean GT driver Richard Wee will also stand in for Jean-Marc Merlin in GT4, whom will be driving alongside Frank Yu in the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT4.
#55 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Daniel Au and Melvin Moh come off their strongest weekend to date, which saw exceptional qualifying pace from the experienced Malaysian driver Moh and big steps forward in all areas for the Singaporean driver Au. Moh had the drive of his season so far in race 2, which saw him fight in the top 5 against the highly competitive pro group, before handing the car over to his teammate, where Au fought a resilient battle against his competitors. Unfortunately the race ended in contact after an error by Au, but he has taken that on the chin and has focused on learning from that experience. Korea will be the opportunity for the pairing to take yet another big step forward in their season long progress.
#88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Taiwanese GT driver Jeffrey Lee and Belgian young gun Alessio Picariello have had several successful weekends so far, with the pair taking two victories in the first four weekends of the season. At the last round in Fuji, Lee and Picariello were so close to a third victory of the season, but a late safety car reduced their huge advantage, dashing their chances of a win. For this weekend, as Picariello is committed racing elsewhere, Mercedes-AMG Factory Driver Maximilian Goetz will drive alongside Jeffrey Lee in the #88 entry. Goetz is highly acclaimed in GT racing, having won the 2014 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup and achieving podium finishes in the 2019 Bathurst 12hr, 2018 Suzuka 10 Hours and the Nurburgring 24hr. Despite this being the first time the pair have worked together, Lee and Goetz will be looking to get on track this weekend with sights set firmly on moving Lee up the championship standings.
#99 Mercedes-AMG GT3 The Silver Cup pairing of Hong Kong driver Darryl O’Young and two-time IMSA Champion Christina Nielsen have also shown their capabilities with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 this season. The #99 pair not only finished on the podium in Malaysia and in Fuji, but also demonstrated their potential by consistently fighting at the front in every race. Last time out in Fuji, great teamwork and race-craft from O’Young and Nielsen meant that the pair fought through the field from 14th position to a podium finish, scoring their second top-three finish of the year. As Nielsen comes straight from a podium finish at the grueling Spa 24 Hours, expectations are high in Korea as the pair continue to get stronger each race.
#77 Mercedes-AMG GT4 The 2017 GT4 Champion pairing of Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin have had an incredible first half of the season, scoring 4 podium results including a class victory in Thailand. For the upcoming round in Korea, experienced Singaporean race driver Richard Wee will replace Jean-Marc Merlin. Wee is no stranger to GT Racing; he has LMGTE experience in the challenging World Endurance Championship, and has contested in various GT3 and GT4 categories around the world, most notably finishing 2nd overall in the 2014 Sepang 12 Hours. The pair will be looking to take the fight to the leaders in GT4 class, and the recent run of strong performances shows that the Mercedes-AMG GT4 is a capable package, giving Yu and Wee a strong shot at victory in Korea. CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Teams Championship Craft-Bamboo Racing currently sit 3rd in the outright GT3 Teams Championship with 96 points, and 3rd in the GT4 class with 132 points.
[GT3] P9 [50 Points] - #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Jeffrey Lee & Alessio Picariello P12 [43 Points] - #99 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Darryl O’Young & Christina Nielsen P29 [0 Points] - #55 Mercedes-AMG GT3 | Daniel Au & Melvin Moh
The Weekend Ahead The conditions in Yeongam are set to be fairly consistent, with dry and slightly overcast conditions expected throughout the weekend. Temperatures are set to range from 24 to 32 degrees celcius, and these ideal conditions mean that the drivers will be able to push hard come the opening sessions on Friday.
Korea Timetable (GMT +9)
Friday | 2 Aug 2019 1310 – Free Practice 1 1555 – Free Practice 2 Saturday | 3 Aug 2019 0830 – Official Practice 1050 – GT4 Qualifying 1137 – GT3 Qualifying 1540 – Race 1 Sunday | 4 Aug 2019 1220 – Race 2
Darryl O’Young | Driver #99 Mercedes-AMG GT3 “I really enjoy the Korea International Circuit, as it has a mix of everything from low to high speed corners. I've taken a GT3 victory there in the past, so I'm looking to repeat that again this year. We contend with a 5 sec time penalty in race one making it a challenge, but regardless Christina and I will fight hard from green flag to checkered.”
Christina Nielsen | Driver #99 Mercedes-AMG GT3 "It’s been a couple of weeks with loads of traveling. Just came off a P3 in the class at spa so hoping to carry the momentum in to this weekend as well. We are coming in to the end of the season and everyone are pushing for good results to finish of the season strong and we will of course be doing the same."
Daniel Au | Driver #55 Mercedes-AMG GT3 "This weekend should be a good one, hopefully suiting the Mercedes-AMG well. We've made lots of progress in the previous few races, and hopefully Melvin and I get to fight further up the field!"
Melvin Moh | Driver #55 Mercedes-AMG GT3 "Coming to Korea with strong form, and I feel energized after the previous race where we were fighting at the front. The pace is there for sure, and we will work hard to keep the momentum going!"
Maximilian Goetz | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 "It was a bit of a last minute call up, but I was really happy to get this opportunity to set all the basics for the future as we are doing the Suzuka 10 Hour next month! It will be good to meet the team, and I know that the competition is tough in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia. The goal is to be on the podium with Jeffrey, but first we need to ensure that all our bases are ticked with the setup. My target is to bring a trophy from Korea home to Germany!"
Jeffrey Lee | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 "I'm looking forward to racing this weekend with Maximilian, he has lots of top experience with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 over in Europe, and having this factory backed support in Korea will be a bonus! The aim is always to be at the front, and hopefully we nail every session and score a nice result this weekend!"
Frank Yu | Driver #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 "Great to be back in Korea, the last time we were here a few years ago we were pretty successful, and I hope that from the pace of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the previous few races we can do the same here this weekend!"