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Craft-Bamboo Racing scored an incredible double podium this weekend at the Fuji International Speedway in Japan, with the #88 Interush Porsche taking P3 in both races. Richard Lyons secured a dominant pole position for race one in the wet and got off to a flying start later that afternoon under worsening conditions. He led for the entire stint before handing over to Frank Yu, who put in one of the most impressive stints of his GT Asia career to bring the car home in P3. The #91 VLT Porsche also impressed at Fuji, with O’Young making a brilliant start to take P2 by the first corner in race one. After holding strong in P3, O’Young handed the car to Naiyanobh Bhirombhakdi who put in a great drive to take P4 by flag fall. Frank put in another solid effort in race two on Sunday to give Lyons the #88 Porsche in P6, where he began a stellar charge to the finish. Lyons managed to close in on the leaders and take P3 on the final lap in what was an amazing finish to their weekend. Bhirombhakdi made a great start in race two but the #91 VLT Porsche was running a new setup and couldn’t generate the pace necessary to challenge the leaders, ultimately finishing in P9 to collect some championship points.

GTAsiaSeries_FIS_R2_Craftx2_170716_med copyRace One

#88 Interush Porsche 911 GT3 R

Lyons was on pole position for race one and he made the most of the start after the lights went out, confidently maintaining his lead into the first corner. From here, Lyons used his superior knowledge of the Fuji Speedway to gain an edge over the rest of the GT Asia field. He drove a flawless stint and managed to create a gap of six seconds over P2 by the time he pitted to change to his teammate. Frank left the pits with 25 minutes left on the clock and began to put in some solid lap times, managing to guide the Porsche through the treacherous conditions with good pace.

“It was a fantastic feeling to be able to lead from the start but conditions proved to be really tricky and very difficult to keep the car on track,” said Lyons. “We managed to pull a bit of a gap from the cars behind and were able to get our first podium of the year for the #88 Interush Porsche after Frank’s stint.”

Frank was pushing hard in P1 but the Singha Ferrari began to close in, pressuring the #88 Interush driver into a defensive driving style. Unfortunately, in the heat of battle, Frank spun but recovered quickly and got back up to speed. He was now in P2 but got his head down and charged to the finish, displaying immense car control and pace in the process. In the final few laps, Frank came under attack from the Lamborghini of Andrea Amici but put up a strong fight, defending his position with great skill. However, he couldn’t defend from the Lamborghini’s superior pace and let him pass, not willing to risk their podium position. The flag fell shortly after and Frank crossed the line in P3 to take the #88 Interush Porsche’s first podium of the year.

“Race one was really tricky,” said Frank. “It must have been one of the toughest races I’ve done in recent years. It was really difficult driving conditions, the track was very greasy and wet, especially with the fluid dropped by the Ferrari. I had a spin but recovered, but I did lose 20 seconds and the Lamborghini was able to catch me on the very last lap. Very happy to finish P3 and get Interush back on the podium.”

GTAsiaSeries_FIS_R1_start_160716_med copy#91 VLT Porsche 911 GT3 R

O’Young began the race one campaign for the #91 VLT Porsche and made an incredible start, jumping four places at the first corner to slot into P2. O’Young gave chase but soon became embroiled in a battle with Carlo Van Dam, who soon squeezed past. The Hong Kong driver was now securely in P3 and thanks to his good pace and consistency, he remained there until he handed over to Bhirombhakdi. The Thai driver got out on track and straight back into the fight in P3. He drove a confident stint and was looking strong, closing in on Frank in the #88 Interush Porsche towards the end of the race. However, the fast charging Lamborghini snuck up from behind and complicated things. Bhirombhakdi was simultaneously defending from Amici and challenging Frank for P2 just ahead. It made for some incredible racing over the next couple of laps, but Bhirombhakdi was unable to hold out until the chequered flag and slipped into P4. The young GT driver crossed the line after 60 minutes of intense racing and secured the #91 VLT Porsche its best finish of the season so far in P4.

“I managed to get a really good start, moving up from P6 to P2 at turn one,” said Darryl O’Young. “That really helped to give Richard some clean air ahead of him before I was passed by Carlo Van Dam. I held P3 and passed the car over to Toy, who drove a really good stint. His confidence is improving with every race and he had some good fights out there, showing some good defence too. He finished the race in P4, which was really good for us.”

Race Two

#88 Interush Porsche 911 GT3 R

Craft1Frank started race two in P6 and while he initially dropped down to P9 after being forced wide at turn one, he found the pace in the #88 Interush Porsche and began his charge back up the field. “I started race two in the dry and had a new set of tyres on but was pushed to the outside of turn one. We tried a new setup and did a pretty good job. I had a few fights with the bronze drivers. I handed over the car to Richard in P6 and he did an amazing job of bringing the car to P3.”

Frank displayed some of the best driving of the season so far and this allowed him to storm ahead and move into P6 before he changed over to Richard Lyons. Lyons is a master at Fuji and he put in another stellar drive, one that was even more impressive than his performance on Saturday. He carved his way up the field and at one point was closing in on the car ahead at over one second per lap. Seemingly out of nowhere, with less than two minutes to go, Lyons was on the back of the Bentley and managed to line up the perfect move down the pit straight to take P3 with only a minute left. The flag fell and Lyons had managed to hold his position, even pulling a small gap over P4 to see the #88 Interush pair stand proudly on the podium for the second time that weekend.

#91 VLT Porsche 911 GT3 R

The lights went out for race two and Bhirombhakdi was off to a flying start, shooting up from P9 to P5 on the first lap, in what was another fantastic start by the GT3 rookie. Bhirombhakdi had some great battles throughout his stint and was showing just how much progress he has made since the start of the season.

He handed over the car to O’Young in P6, who was shortly dropped down to P9 once the pit stop shuffle had been completed. O’Young did his best to find the pace but couldn’t muster it from the #91 VLT Porsche, finding it difficult on the current setup they were testing. “A little disappointing but Toy drove a really good stint. I think he elevated himself once again and passed a lot of cars on the start. He passed the car over to me and we came out ahead of Richard but just didn’t have the pace today to fight, we have been going two different directions with the setup and trying to learn as much we can. I don’t think we really hit the mark this weekend but hopefully in Shanghai we will take another step forward.”

The Hong Kong driver maintained his position until the end of the race and brought the car home in P9 to score some more points for Craft-Bamboo and their #91 drivers’ championship.

Ben Potter

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