GT4 Podium for Craft-Bamboo Racing Despite Challenging Weekend During Opening Round of Blancpain GT Series Asia

It was a challenging weekend for Craft-Bamboo Racing during the opening round of the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Asia in the GT3 class, but the team managed to secure a hard fought second place podium in the GT4 class.

Frank Yu (R) and Jean-Marc Merlin (L)

Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin drove a superb race one from P4 to kick off their championship title defence with a well-deserved podium. While the Porsche 911 GT3 R struggled in the Sepang heat, both cars demonstrated some good performance.

The #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Sandy Stuvik and Shae Davies debuted with a top-ten championship points finish in race one, followed by the #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Darryl O’Young and Aidan Read in P11.

The #911 Porsche just missed out on another points finish in race two, taking P12 at the flag, with #991 close behind once more in P14. Topping off their weekend in GT4, the #77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR finished P4 to help Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin into P3 in the GT4 drivers’ championship.

Race One

#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Shae Davies began the season from P12 and got away cleanly for his first ever Blancpain GT Series Asia debut, managing to hold his position in the middle of the jostling pack. He was soon able to take another place and move into P11 and focus on charging up the field. After working hard to break into championship point territory, the #911 driver handed the car over to Sandy Stuvik in P9, giving them a good opportunity at some points in their very first race. Stuvik rejoined the race in P10 behind the #991 Porsche of O’Young and focused on reeling him in over the coming laps. Eventually, Stuvik managed to make a clean pass on O’Young and keep the car in the top-ten until the chequered flag fell, securing them a championship point for their efforts.

“Race one was a great race for us in terms of setup,” says Stuvik. “The mechanics and my engineer Matt Harvey did an excellent job setting the car up to handle the tire degradation and we had a consistent race package which enabled us to move up through the field after a solid start by Shae. I couldn’t be more impressed with how the team operated and our pitstops ran smoothly without any mistakes. I was happy to bring the car home in 10th place to pick up our first points of the season.”

#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Aidan Read was tasked with getting the season underway for the #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R from P11 on the grid. He made an excellent start and fought his way up to P5 before the safety car was called out within the first few minutes of the hour-long race. After the restart, Read was on the defensive and dropped a place to P6 but kept pace with the front of the pack for the rest of his stint. The Australian driver did a stellar job to keep his opponents at bay until the pit stop window arrived 25 minutes in, handing the car over to Darryl O’Young in P5. Unfortunately, the #991 was undercut during the pit stop and after the pit stop shuffle had ended, they found themselves fighting to the flag from P9. After a full course yellow with less than 20 minutes to go, O’Young found himself in a tough position but he pushed forward and managed to hold onto P9 as the race entered the final ten minutes. A battle between the #911 sister car soon ensued and after trading friendly blows, Stuvik managed to edge ahead. With only a couple of laps left, O’Young was just outside the points and despite his best efforts the Porsche just didn’t have the pace to challenge the heat in Sepang and finished race one in P11.

#77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR

It was Frank Yu who kicked off the #77’s title defence from P4 in the GT4 class and he did an incredible job as the lights went out for the first time in 2018 in Sepang. Yu managed to snatch two positions on the opening lap, which was a huge accomplishment against the new GT4 manufacturers. Now sitting in P2, Yu put in a flawless stint at full pace to maintain that position to the pit stop window, where he handed over the car to Jean-Marc Merlin. Merlin continued with the epic performance, not missing a beat and taking the #77 Porsche to the flag in P2 to secure them a crucial second place podium and a huge 18 points to add to their drivers’ championship campaign.

Race Two

#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Race two’s starting duties now belonged to Sandy Stuvik and he began Sunday’s race from P15. It was another clean start from the #911 driver and he maintained his position over the opening laps, thankfully avoiding an incident early on with the Ferrari. Lacking outright pace, Stuvik was able to run a clean stint but not make up ground on his rivals, delivering the car in P15 to his teammate, Shae Davies. The Aussie made a strong push from the pit exit and was able to find his way into P13 with 20 minutes remaining. Davies continued to chip away with each lap and began to make some ground on those ahead, managing to sneak into P12 in the final ten minutes. It was an excellent stint and Davies continued his push to the flag but lacked the outright performance to break into the top ten.

#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R

Darryl O’Young began race two in the #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R in P18 and made the jump to P17 during the opening couple of laps. While O’Young did his best to give chase from P17, the #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R struggled for pace and he found it difficult to find a way through the field. O’Young pushed on in P17 until he pitted to hand over to his teammate at the start of the pit window. The #991 Porsche was able to gain some ground after the pit stop with Aidan Read slotting into P15 as the race entered its closing stages. Read gave it everything he had and was able to take a further position as his stint progressed, putting the #991 Porsche into P14 where it would ultimately finish ten minutes later.

#77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR

Jean-Marc Merlin got underway from P5 in the GT4 class and held his position for the opening portion of the race, creating a gap to those behind while he fought to catch the car in front. His persistence paid off, as he was eventually presented with the opportunity to overtake towards the end of his stint. After taking P4, Merlin handed the car to Frank Yu to close out the weekend. While Yu had slipped back to P5 after the pitstop thanks to their success penalty from race one, he made back the time with another strong stint in the #77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR. Yu’s push made all the difference and he was able to secure a P4 finish for the pair, which greatly helped their title chances. The #77 duo are now P3 in the GT4 class, setting themselves up for a challenge on the leaders when they head to Buriram for round two in May.