Craft-Bamboo Racing found several positives despite a tough opening round of the China Endurance Series, which saw bad luck prevent them from taking a podium or possible victory in Sunday’s main race. A challenging opening race due to a lack of pace resulted in the #95 Ligier JS P3 of James Winslow and Neale Muston scoring P6, ahead of the #96 sister car of Nathan Kumar and Rick Yoon who finished in P9.
The team worked hard overnight and considerable progress was made following an aggressive setup change. It allowed James Winslow to shoot from P9 to P3 in the #95 before a tyre puncture ruined any chances of success, forcing them to finish in P6, with the #96 following in P8. It was unfortunate, but the team showed good development of the car over the weekend as well as giving their new prototype drivers some invaluable seat time in the Ligier JS P3. Craft-Bamboo Racing are already looking ahead to Ningbo where they hope to make further leaps in performance and return to the China Endurance Series podium.
“It was not the easiest weekend due to a new tyre compound as well as three drivers either new to the track or to prototype racing,” explained Team Director Darryl O’Young. “I’m proud of the team spirt to overcome early setup issues to get the car back on pace in the main race on Sunday, which should bode well for round two in Ningbo. James had a strong stint moving from P9 to P3, but an unlucky puncture ruined all chances of a podium finish. Despite this, the team remains very motivated to make big progress at the next event.”
#95 Ligier JS P3
It was James Winslow’s turn to start the race in the #95 Ligier and he was off to an absolute flyer, slicing his way through the field from P9 up to P4 in only the first lap. Finding much better pace than Saturday, Winslow was confident that he could continue his climb up the ladder. With only ten minutes of racing under his belt, Winslow had managed to put the Ligier into P3 and he continued his push to the compulsory pit stop.
Unfortunately, Winslow picked up a very untimely tyre puncture during his in-lap, losing the #95 pair valuable time and ruining their chances of a possible victory or podium, as without the puncture, Muston would have surely come out of the pitstop sequence in the lead. Muston settled into P8 after the pitstop window had closed and began the final stint of the weekend. It would be hard to regain positions, but Muston never stopped fighting, making up a place and taking P7 as the race entered the final 15 minutes.
The Australian continued the fight to the flag and was on the tail of P6 but didn’t have enough time to make a move before the chequered flag fell. It was an unfortunate end to a race that showed so much promise for #95 but the P7 finish, classified P6 after post-race penalties were handed out, allowed the pair to tally up some more championship points in preparation for round two in Ningbo.
#96 Ligier JS P3
Nathan Kumar began Sunday’s main race from P11 and he knew he had his work cut out for him but with the team’s efforts overnight to improve the setup, the #96 Ligier was in with a chance of making up some positions. Kumar got off to a good start and was soon able to snatch two spots from his opponents on the opening laps and move into P9.
Over the coming laps he faced pressure from behind but held his own defensively for as long as possible but soon slipped back to P11. A small mistake resulted in a spin, which flat-spotted the tyres on the #96 and made it difficult to maintain full race pace. Kumar finished his stint and pitted from P11, allowing Yoon to re-join the race from the same position where he would begin his fight to reclaim some ground.
Yoon slowly chipped away with each lap and was able to take P10 with 20 minutes remaining. Yoon’s consistent pace and clean driving style allowed him to move further up the order, taking another two places as his opponents made critical errors that allowed him through. As the hour-long race came to an end, Yoon brought home the #96 Ligier in P8 giving them another crucial points finish for their first weekend in the China Endurance Series, closing out a very impressive prototype debut.