As the cars went around for the formation lap, the rain started.
It was an outstanding result for Craft-Bamboo Racing on a very wet Fuji International Speedway, where car #97 with Frank Yu (HKG) and Stefan Mücke (DEU) finished on the podium in third place overall. Talented newcomers Jonathan Venter (AUS) and Kevin Gleason (USA) brought the #99 to eighth place for the team in a hectic race, which started under heavy showers followed by intermittent rain throughout the hour-long session.
As the cars went around for the formation lap, the rain started to pour down hard but no Safety Car start was called, proceeding with the normal rolling start procedure. Yu started the race for car #97 in sixth, while Venter lined up on the grid in fourth. Yu managed a good start, passing two cars into turn one, while Venter in the #99 dropped down two positions. Venter recovered quickly, managing to reclaim his fourth placed position on the opening lap; a position he held for the remainder of his stint.
Yu also drove a strong stint, putting in extremely consistent laps, however a small mistake in the early part saw him run wide into turn one. Yu held his composure to regain fifth in time for the pit-stop before handing the car over to Mücke.
After the driver change, Mücke had a tough fight as track conditions continually changed and there were back markers to contend with. He made a strong charge that saw him overtake several cars to move up to fourth position, a position that eventually became third after a drive through penalty was given to the front running McLaren.
In the #99 car, Gleason was driving a strong race coming out of the pits in P3 and holding the position for the first part of the stint. However, the rain stopped and the circuit conditions became tricky for the rain tire on a half damp circuit, giving the car very low grip. Gleason used all his experience to maintain good consistent lap times during his thirty minute stint, and eventually crossed the line an impressive eighth place overall.
This marked the second top ten finish of the weekend for the two GT Asia newcomers in the 35 car grid, after a strong sixth place finish in yesterday’s race. It was a very impressive performance for the duo as it was not only their first weekend at the Fuji Speedway, but also their first time in the Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
Car #97 – Frank Yu: “The stint was okay, I did another one of my very good starts I gained two positions but then in lap five there was too much spray and I couldn’t see the brake point into turn one and I braked too late almost off into the gravel. I got the car back but lost about six to eight seconds, otherwise I think we could have finished in P2 today. Anyway, the point is to keep the car on the track and just stay in position and hand the car over to Stefan, so other than that little incident, I am pretty happy.”
Car #97 – Stefan Mücke: “Frank did a great job in the beginning, he kept us in a good position. After that I went out on the same tyres. It was very tough and getting very slippery out there, so we lost a little bit of time but we were able to keep up with the front at the beginning of my stint but then we lost a little bit of time due to the grip of the tyre. It was a shame but there was nothing more in the car, so I am happy with P3. It could have been better but P3 is alright, it was the best we could do in this race.”
Car #99 – Jonathan Venter: “It was a bit wet. I think the worst part of it was the start, I lost two spots at the start but made it back up quickly in the first lap but it was hard and I had to concentrate to try and eliminate mistakes.
“At the start, I was driving down the metro and I couldn’t see a thing. I was hoping it would start behind the Safety Car but it didn’t so you have to make do with what you got really. I was happy with how it went.”
Car #99 – Kevin Gleason: “Absolutely one of the most interesting races I’ve ever had. Fuji Speedway threw all weather conditions at us, dry and wet. We also lost a lot of track time earlier in the weekend so it was definitely challenging.
“The first two laps we were just assessing the conditions, we really didn’t have any wet running in this car. First time in this car, first time in a GT3 car in the wet so it was a lot of things to work out. I felt pretty comfortable pretty quickly and had a pretty good pace. Two top tens over the weekend was pretty good.”
The GT Asia Series will take another three-week break before heading to Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia for Rounds seven and eight on 15th to 17th August 2014.
Craft-Bamboo Racing’s campaign in the 2014 GT Asia Series can only be made possible with the continued support of the team sponsors; Gravity Partnership, POAD, Ravenol, Racerlink, Tunewear and Vortex Racewear.