Hong Kong - It was a magical day for Hong Kong racing team Craft Racing AMR as their #007 entry crossed the finish line at the Sepang International Circuit to grab the final podium position at the Asian Le Mans Series season finale. The points haul was enough for Craft Racing to secure 2nd place in the GTC class and claim the coveted invitation to the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.
Craft Racing entered two Aston Martin Vantage GT3’s in the Asian Le Mans Series this past weekend, the first time to line-up on the grid with two cars this season. The #009 entry of Darryl O’Young, Frank Yu, and Tomonobu Fujii started P2, followed closely by the #007 of Stefan Mücke and Keita Sawa starting P3 on the grid for the 3 hour endurance race.
When the green flag dropped, both cars made strong starts and after two turns, the starting drivers of Mucke and O’Young emerged in 1st and 2nd in the class. The pair extended their lead pulling over 20 seconds away from the field before the first round of pit stops.
With re-fueling taking longer than expected, the team lost their lead heading into the 2nd hour when Sawa and Yu took over the wheel. The pair fought hard through the intense heat of Malaysia, which saw the pair sitting in P3 and P5 respectively by the end of their stints. Shortly before the final hour, the #007 was passed back to Mucke, as Yu finished his stint and handed the car to Fujii for the run to the checkered flag.
The #007 emerged P3 after the final pit stops and being in a good position to score enough points to secure the Le Mans entry, the team decided to stop chase of the leaders and maintain the position. Doing the opposite, #009 was making a charge in the final 30 minutes of the race reducing a 25 second deficit to the fourth placed Lamborghini ahead. The chase came a bit short at the end as #009 crossed the finish line just two seconds behind, having to settle for P5 after a sensational drive by Fujii.
Although Craft Racing missed out on the victory, it was celebrations all around as the #007 crossed the finish line in P3 claiming 2nd place in the GTC championship and claiming the coveted 24 hours of Le Mans entry.
Craft Racing AMR had their first major endurance race success earlier this year in January, where they became the first Hong Kong race team to take an international endurance race podium at the 24 hours of Dubai. The team will return to Dubai this January to try and improve on their success at the event.
Said team founder Frank Yu, “This is a dream come true as our Hong Kong team will be heading to Le Mans. This is a big step for Craft Racing, as we made Le Mans our target from the outset and to achieve this result is a great reward to everyone on the team for all the hard work. We will all enjoy this special moment right now, but work will start again immediately as we prepare for a big race in January at the 24 hours of Dubai and preparations for Le Mans.”
Hong Kong driver, Darryl O’Young commented, “Endurance racing is a team sport and everyone at Craft Racing worked so hard for this result. We struggled today with tire degradation, so it wasn’t an easy race for the drivers. Everyone pulled together and gave it a strong team effort and I am so happy for the team as this is a major accomplishment.”
Team Principle, Mark Goddard added, “It is a tremendous day for our us as getting a Le Mans invitation is one of the biggest challenges for a race team. Scoring an early invitation allows us time to prepare properly for the race in June and we can begin organizing the logistics, sponsors and the driver line-ups for the race. It will be a big challenge ahead but we have worked hard for many years to achieve this and we are ready for the task. Many thanks to all our sponsors and supporters for believing in us, and a special thank you to Aston Martin Racing for all the continued support.”