Published on July 21st, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Craft-Bamboo Racing @ Asian Le Mans Series season opener
It was a race not to be forgotten for Craft-Bamboo Racing as the Hong Kong based team collected maximum points at the Asian Le Mans Series during the 3 hours of Inje in South Korea. The team overcame numerous issues, showing great teamwork at every turn, giving the team much to celebrate last night. Craft-Bamboo Racing’s #77 Ligier JS-53 Evo CN Prototype started the race third on the grid, first in class, on a hot Sunday afternoon with Kevin Tse (MAC) starting the race for the team. Tse then handed the car over to Frank Yu (HKG) for the second stint, then to Mathias Beche (SUI) before getting back into the car for the final stint, bringing the car home for the team. The race started well with Tse improving his time at every lap but as track temperatures began to soar, laptimes started to increase due to downshift blip issue. Tse came in for a slightly earlier pit-stop to refuel and hand over the car to Yu.
“The start was okay, I got passed by the two GT cars in the first lap. And then my pace was okay but then the throttle started to stick, so when I brake the car still kept going forward. I had this for about ten laps, then I came to the pits.
“The first part of the race wasn’t too bad, I was in the rhythm and was comfortable until the problem with the sticky throttle. I just hope we will be able to fix it now during the stop and we can finish the race” said Tse between stints.
After fixing the throttle, Yu took the car out for a 45 minute stint where he posted some quick times despite being bogged down by traffic from the faster LMPs and the slower GTs. Yu had to also battle the heat as he drove during the hottest time of the day. As he came out of the car, the Hong Kong driver said, “we had a bit of mechanical issues so they brought Kevin back a bit early, then I jumped in the car for my stint after the quick fix. Unfortunately we lost about five or six laps during the pit-stop. I went out and did my best over the weekend. It is my first time in a downforce car and I was already up to pace, and was even quicker than some of the LMP2 drivers, so I’m pretty happy.
“The circuit is really harsh for cars and drivers. Last year in GTC we were on pole, with Stefan, we were leading the race and the car broke down, with half an hour to go I think. Today, the same thing happened again, it broke off some parts, but we were able to take the chequered flag and score maximum points for this weekend, so the team is happy and they did a great job. It’s a pretty tiring race but I am looking forward to the next round” ended Yu.
Beche took over driving duties from Yu and quickly set the team’s fastest time. He tried to make up some paces but due to a water leak that resulted in fluid covering the rear tyre, Beche spun in the first sector of lap 87. He immediately brought the car in for the team to resolve issue with just half an hour to go.
“We were not lucky today, which was disappointing because we had a good race pace. Both Kevin and Frank did a solid race, we had a safe race car which was nice to drive bit hard on the traffic with the GTs. Unfortunately we had the small problems that forced us to stop in the pit but it was good to find out all these issues in the first race so we are able to improve as the season progresses.
“I would like to thank the team for this weekend for the great job that they did, they worked hard. The car felt pretty good, we had more fuel than the LMP2’s but we were able to post a fastest time of 1:29.773, so performance wise the car was good. Definitely some improvements to do but we will work hard before the next race” said Beche.
Tse then took over from Beche to finish the race for the team. Car #77 crossed the chequered flag completing a total of 89 laps for Craft-Bamboo Racing.
“It was good, despite the problems we finished the race, got the points so that’s all that matters. The team really did great and the star of the race was Mathijs who really showed us how things should be done. Everyone did a fantastic job, it was a great team effort.
“We got the points, we got the win, so lets hope the car is reliable and will stay reliable so we can have a great season” ended Tse.
Team Manager Russell O’Hagan says of the Asian Le Mans Series experience, “It was a really enjoyable weekend with lots of tough challenges all of which the team and drivers overcame with great determination and professionalism, to come through for a well deserved class win”. The Asian Le Mans Series continues at the end of August when it heads to Fuji Speedway for the second of five races in the 2014 season.