EWS Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Jeffrey Lee and Alessio Picariello score their 5th podium of the season in Tianjin for 2019 the China GT Championship. After being taken out early in Race 1, the J-Fly Racing pair of Lee and Picariello bounced back strongly to fight through the field and finished in P3 in Race 2 on Sunday. Jeffrey Lee is now 24 points behind the leader, with a maximum of 40 points available in the season finale up next in Shanghai.
Qualifying 1 | Alessio Picariello
P3 – 1:36.224
Qualifying 2 | Jeffrey Lee
P6 – 1:39.154
Jeffrey Lee started the race for the #88 EWS Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 from 3rd position. As the race began and the pack headed down towards the tight first corner, Lee fought hard to maintain his position but the opening lap scramble meant he dropped down to P4. Just as the race was beginning to settle down into a rhythm, an overly ambitious move from the BMW behind resulted in contact, leading to rear suspension damage to the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Lee was forced to retire the car prematurely before the pit-window, missing out on the opportunity to score valuable championship points.
Starting P6 on the narrow and twisty Tianjin circuit was going to be a challenge for Picariello, but the young Belgian wasted no time in working his way up the field on the opening laps. His rapid progress meant that the #88 entry was up to 3rd position within the first 5 minutes of the race. Picariello then set his sights on chasing down the leaders, and their own battle for position meant that the gap to 2nd place was closed right down with 40 minutes to go. Picariello ducked and dived for several laps in an attempt to find a way past, but the narrow circuit offered no room for overtaking. Just before the pit-stop, Picariello smartly set up a move going onto the back straight and decisively took 2nd position.
When Picariello handed the car to Lee, the Taiwanese GT driver emerged in P3 having lost one position due to a badly timed safety car, and on the restart, lost yet another position as he was passed by the faster pro driver. With a podium position in sight however, Lee set his focus on setting consistent lap-times in a bid to close up the gap. With just 15 minutes to go, Lee spotted an opportunity and out-braked the 3rd placed BMW to take the final podium spot. The #88 entry crossed the line soon after, giving EWS Craft-Bamboo Racing their 5th podium result of the season.
Darryl O’Young | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“It was a tough weekend for the team in Tianjin, unfortunately Jeffrey got hit from a car behind in Race 1 and an unlucky safety car period dashed hopes of fighting for the win. But we’re still in the fight for the championship and we won’t give up with 2 races left in Shanghai and everything to fight for. We'll ensure the best preparation possible going into the final weekend, to give our drivers the best chances of clinching the title.
Jeffrey Lee | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“It was a bit of a shame for Race 1 as I felt that we could have used that opportunity to score more points for the championship, but the team did a solid job to repair the car and we bounced back to score a podium position for Race 2. It was also nice to go to yet another new circuit again! Looking forward to the season finale in a few weeks’ time, and hope that we can keep the fight going until the final race.”
Alessio Picariello | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“It was a challenging weekend with mixed outcomes, in Race 1 we were taken out through no fault of Jeffrey, and in Race 2 we had some bad luck with the slow cars entering the pit-lane and a safety car, but we managed to come through in P3 at the end. More points scored but I feel we could have achieved more with the pace that we had. Regardless, I’m already looking forward to the next round in Shanghai, where I hope we can score more points for Jeffrey’s title chances.”