Craft Bamboo Racing heads team table after Okayama

Monday, June 29, 2015

Craft-Bamboo Racing have taken the lead in the GT Asia series teams’ championship after a stunning double podium appearance in race two at the Okayama Circuit in Japan. Both cars claimed front row stating positions after qualifying, with the #88 of Richard Lyons and Frank Yu starting P2 for race one, with the #99 sister car also starting in P2 for race two on Sunday. The #99 VLT car made an incredible charge through the field to take P4 in race one, taking nine positions in an amazing display of overtaking ability. It was race two though where the team would put on another commanding display of performance, with #88 taking on the field and finishing in P2, with the VLT liveried car finishing just behind in P3. With such a consistent weekend of results under their belts, both cars have come away with a good haul of championship points before the series hits Fuji in July.
#88 Interush 
Japanese GT expert, Richard Lyons, felt right at home in Okayama, as he had driven the Japanese circuit on numerous occasions and enjoyed great success. That string of success continued when he was able to grab second fastest in the first qualifying session, unfortunately, traffic towards the end of the session further prevented him from bettering his time of 1:29.282 but it would be good enough for the blue Interush Aston Martin to start on the front row for race one in Okayama.
Teammate Frank Yu took to the circuit for the second session, deciding to keep the same set of tyres that Lyons had used for Q1. Still testing a variety of set ups after the awful weather that had ruined free practice on Friday; Yu ran a 1:32.916 which would see them start in P8 for race two of Okayama.
#99 VLT
Darryl O’Young was absent for Thursday’s practice session and first took to the circuit during the torrential downpour that plagued Friday’s free practice. Getting his first taste of dry tarmac during the first qualifying session proved difficult and he was unable to maximize the car’s performance potential. O’Young gave it his all and managed to clock a 1:30.594 which secured the #99 VLT Aston Martin P13 on the grid for race one. It was a reminder of just how high the level of competition was in this year’s GT Asia field and it is evident how hard Craft-Bamboo Racing’s championship challenge is going to be.
Jonathan Venter was up next and made every effort to take pole position. He was looking very strong and recorded a 1:29.909 but was just beaten by Adderly Fong. The young Australian had done enough though to see the #99 car take P2 and start on the front row of the grid for race two.
Race One 
#88 Interush
After a clean start from P2 that saw Lyons go head to head with, Andy Soucek, in the first corner, it was Daniel Tappy who capitalized on his good start to move ahead and take P2. From there, the #88 of Lyons and Yu began to prove that they had the pace to challenge the leaders, showing some excellent speed during the early parts of the sprint race. Lyons found a confident rhythm and produced consistently quick lap times to keep the Interush liveried Aston Martin up the front of the competition in P3. Unfortunately, after placing a wheel on the grass at turn eight, the GT ace spun and scraped the wall. This resulted in a great loss for the #88 car, losing ten places and relegating them to P13 before the driver change.
Lyons did his best to recover quickly and entered the pit lane to be sure his car wasn’t badly damaged but after a visual check of the car he continued down the pit lane. A lap later, they came back into the pits for the driver change, having just missed the compulsory pit window. The switch was made to his teammate, Frank Yu, who got in the car during a well performed pit stop from the Craft-Bamboo team.
After the driver change, Yu, went out on track and put his head down and began completing some serious lap times. By working hard, Yu, was able to make up several positions and climb back into valuable championship points territory. While focusing hard on closing down the gap to his competitors, Yu hit a patch of oil, causing the car to spin and come into contact with the wall. Thankfully, the damage wasn’t race ending and Yu was able to bring the car back home and take P12 overall, collecting an important two championship points in the process.

#99 VLT
Starting from P13 on the grid put the #99 VLT Aston Martin right in the thick of the action and kept O’Young on his toes as the field dove into the first corner to begin race one of Okayama. With consistency and the championship long game in mind, O’Young made it his mission to stay out of trouble and avoid any racing incidents that would prevent them from climbing the championship ladder. O’Young kept up with the pack and began to move up the field, quickly falling into a rhythm. He knuckled down and continued with his strong pace until he handed over to teammate Venter.
After a flawless pitstop and driver change, it was Venter’s turn to continue the march through the strong field of competitors. The young driver pressed on and ever so surely began to pick up positions. Venter proved he had the skill to snatch away places from even the most seasoned drivers. He had done a stellar job of driving beyond his years to take the #99 car nine places ahead to P4 by the closing laps of the race. It looked as though he may even take away a podium position from those ahead but by the time the flag fell he would have to settle for P4, which was a monumental result after starting from P13.
1. Tonio Liuzzi/Hiroshi Hamaguchi (FFF Racing McLaren 650S GT3) - 32-laps
2. Carlo Van Dam/Piti Bhirom Bhakdi (Singha Ferrari 458)
3. Davide Rizzo/Anthony Liu (BBT Team Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
4. Darryl O’Young/Jonathan Venter (Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston)
5. Andy Soucek/Jeffrey Lee (Absolute Bentley Continental GT3)
12.Richard Lyons/Frank Yu (Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin GT3)
Richard Lyons, Driver #88 Interush
“It didn’t go to plan, but we showed great speed in early parts of the race but with a little mishap half way through and we unfortunately didn’t get back to a big points scoring position but still managed to take valuable points so we look forward to the following race.”
Frank Yu, Driver #88 Interush
“Race one was a really terrible day, Richard had one wheel on the grass and scraped the wall on turn 8, handed over the car to me in P3 and dropped down to P13 and I got into the car and I slowly fought back to P7 and hit some oil in turn one and the car spun and then I hit the wall, so from there it was just finishing the race and collecting the two points.”
Darryl O’Young, Driver #99 VLT
“Starting from P13 our strategy was to stay out of trouble and keep the pace and stay with the pack. We aimed to keep consistent lap times and to give Jonathan a good run in the second half of the race. He did a really great job and overtook a lot of cars, it is a really great result to get P4 and is above our expectations.”
Jonathan Venter, Driver #99 VLT
“Race one was going to be hard starting from P13, but Darryl did a great job with keeping with the pack in front of him. We had a good pit stop and made up some positions and after that it was a matter of staying fast and overtaking as many cars as possible. Once we reached P4 we were happy with the gap behind us, happy with P4 and it is good points for the championship and no penalty for race two.”
Race Two
#88 Interush

It was up to Frank Yu to start race two of Okayama and he made sure it was a successful one, surviving the first corner fray before taking a position later on that lap. Yu focused on those ahead and became determined to take as many places as possible. He settled into his stint and began to put away some impressive lap times, his pace closing down the gap to his competitors. Before the halfway mark, the safety car made an appearance and bunched up the field. Craft-Bamboo made a quick strategy call to bring Yu into the pits immediately which helped the #88 car gain some crucial time. Teammate Lyons hopped in the car and immediately set about chasing down the leaders with lighting pace.
As the laps ticked over and time began to run out, Lyons reached the back of the Craft-Bamboo Racing sister car of O’Young and began a friendly duel for ­­­P2. Lyons made it past without incident and into P2 where he would remain for the closing laps of the race. It was Lyons speed that was most impressive in these closing laps, as he overtook several cars while he chased down the race leader. Once behind Sawa, Lyons began to pressure during a final lap battle but made the safe choice to collect the points from a second place podium finish. Lyons crossed the finish line just ahead of the #99 car to make it a Craft-Bamboo Racing double podium and score themselves a healthy dose of points to take into the next round of the championship.
#99 VLT

Venter began race two in P2 and used his strong position to settle into a quick pace, putting in good lap times to keep him at the front of the field. After some strong running a safety car was called out after an incident, this bunched up the field and closed the gap that Venter had worked so hard for. This really affected the #99’s challenge as it dismantled their race strategy and forced them rethink their plan of attack. Once the safety car had returned home, Venter made an incredible push to open up a gap before handing over to teammate O’Young.
After another flawless pitstop from the Craft-Bamboo team, O’Young, set out to chase down the Bentley of Sawa. As they exited the pit lane, a monumental battle for the lead begun and O’Young worked hard to complete lap after lap of consistently quick times which kept him in the fight. Unfortunately though, Venter’s early push had an adverse effect on the tyres. O’Young began to lose grip and ever so slightly dropped back, unable to keep the pace as he had to conserve his tyres until the chequered flag. Lyons from the #88 sister car was fast approaching and after a small battle, moved ahead into P2. With O’Young defending until the end, they crossed the line in P3, making it a Craft-Bamboo double podium. More importantly though, they had completed a consistent weekend that brought with it a lot points that saw Craft-Bamboo take the lead in the teams’ championship and also help close the gap in the drivers’ standings too.

1. Adderly Fong/Keita Sawa (Absolute Bentley Continental GT3)
2. Frank Yu/Richard Lyons (Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin GT3)
3. Jonathan Venter/Darryl O’Young (Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston)
4. Richard Wee/Matt Griffin (Clearwater Racing Ferrari 458)
5. Anthony Liu/Davide Rizzo (BBT Team Ferrari 458 Italia GT3
Teams Championship
1. Craft Bamboo Racing - 80 pts
2. Bentley Team Absolute - 78 pts
3. FFF Racing Team by ACM - 58 pts
4. BBT - 57 pts
5. Clearwater Racing – 43 pts
Frank Yu, Driver #88 Interush
“I had a good start and I gained one position going into turn 4 and form that point on I was just following the train and then the safety car came out and I handed the car to Richard in position six.”
Richard Lyons, Driver #88 Interush
“We started in P7, Frank had a good start, taking P6 and then the pack closed up under the safety car and we had a great pit stop to bring us back out in P6 and from there we were able to show great speed and take P2 by the finish. So it was a great overall result for the team.
Jonathan Venter, Driver #99 VLT
“Happy with race two, starting in P2 me and Adderly had good pace all the way, once Sawa came out we bunched up the field again and had to push hard before handing over to Darryl. He did a great job of staying with Sawa until his tyres dropped off. P3 which we are really happy with, good points and lots of confidence heading into Fuji.”
Darryl O’Young, Driver #99 VLT
“Jonathan did a fantastic start and that helped us to get a big lead but a safety car was called out before our pit stop and closed up our gap to the rest of the field. Jonathan pushed really hard on the tyres to try and extend that gap, but that left me with quite used tyres to contend with in the race. We were able to hold off for P3 and we ended up scoring a lot of points this weekend.”
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“It was a great weekend of racing for Craft-Bamboo, with each car fighting some really great battles at the front of the field. To come away with both cars on the podium is fantastic and a testament to the team’s hard work this weekend. Both cars have scored a lot of points and we now leading the teams’ championship heading into the next round in Fuji.”

Source material and photo credits - Craft Bamboo Racing
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