Craft-Bamboo Racing Scores Top Ten Finishes and Victory in the GT4 Class in Thailand

Craft-Bamboo Racing scored two top-ten finishes in the GT3 class for round two of the Blancpain GT Series Asia that was held at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand. The Porsche 911 GT3 Rs showed good pace in Buriram, with the #99 VLT Porsche of Darryl O’Young and Devon Modell taking P11 in race one, followed by a P9 in race two. The #88 IGOFX Porsche of Chris van der Drift and Naiyanobh Bhirombhakdi did a great job from P16 to make it into the points and finish race one in P10. Starting from P12 in race two, the #88 pair had a good chance for a top result, but were given a drive through penalty due to an incident involving contact on the opening lap. Without this harsh ruling by the stewards, the #88 could have challenged for a far better result, but van der Drift and Bhirombhakdi pushed on to score a P13 finish. The team also continued their successful run in the GT4 class, with a dominant victory in race two that sees the #77 pairing of Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin now second overall in the GT4 drivers’ championship, 11 points behind the lead, with 68 points. The pair had scored another victory in the first race, but an incident involving contact with another GT4 competitor caused the #77 Porsche to be disqualified after the race, ultimately costing them the overall lead in the GT4 drivers’ championship. With a strong showing from both their GT3 and GT4 Porsche’s, Craft-Bamboo now focuses on further development before the third round of the series is held at the famous Suzuka Circuit in Japan towards the end of June.



Darryl O’Young: P7 – 01:34.958 – #99 VLT

Naiyanobh Bhirombhakdi: P16 – 01:37.117 – #88 IGOFX

Jean-Marc Merlin: P1 – 01:47.787 – #77 Porsche (GT4)


Chris van der Drift: P12 – 01:34.561 – #88 IGOFX

Devon Modell: P17 – 01:35.736 – #99 VLT

Frank Yu: P3 – 01:48.416 – #77 Porsche (GT4)

Race One

#88 IGOFX Porsche 911 GT3 R

Bhirombhakdi kicked off the #88 IGOFX Porsche’s race one challenge from P16 on the grid. The local Thai driver got a good start and avoided a lot of the opening lap chaos to move up to P12 during the first lap. Bhirombhakdi was looking strong in the #88 Porsche and had settled into a rhythm when a full course yellow flag was instigated due to an incident with a GT4 car. After the ensuing safety car period, the race restarted with 38 minutes left. Bhirombhakdi was now in P11 and he made a fantastic start to fight his way into P8 just before the pit window opened. Bhirombhakdi entered the pits towards the start of the pit window to change to teammate, van der Drift, who re-joined the field in P15. The New Zealander soon got to work and began closing the gap on those ahead. He continually gained ground, picking his battles and timing his overtaking maneuverers perfectly. He was on a charge to the finish and fought his way into the points with only five minutes left. Van der Drift kept his pace up to the end but was unable to gain any further positions with the time remaining and took P10 overall.

#99 VLT Porsche 911 GT3 R

O’Young was in charge of getting the #99 VLT Porsche’s race weekend started and he made a smooth rolling start from P7, staying with the pack and managing to take away a position in the process to claim P6. Unfortunately, O’Young’s good pace was interrupted by the full course yellow flag and subsequent safety car period. This hampered the #99’s strategy and ate into O’Young’s stint time, but he made a good restart from P5 and held his position with some good defence over the coming laps. The pit lane window soon opened but O’Young stayed on track for as long as possible before eventually pitting from the head of the field at the end of the pit window. Modell headed out for his first competitive session at the Buriram circuit and slotted into P9. He got stuck in and was eventually able to take P8 after the next few laps before becoming embroiled in a big battle in the final ten minutes of the race. He was forced to defend against Carlo van Dam, Maxime Jousse and also a fast charging Chris van der Drift in the #88 IGOFX Porsche. Modell defended as best he could but couldn’t quite find the pace to hold them off until the end of the race and crossed the line in P11.

#77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR

Although Jean-Marc Merlin qualified P1, after having only set one flying lap, he was dropped to the last row by the stewards as there is a minimum of two flying laps required to set an official time. Merlin began the #77’s race from P4 in the GT4 class and was doing well to make his way up the field in the opening stages. He had reeled in the lead Cayman and attempted a pass at the end of the straight heading into turn three, which caused contact. The #77 Porsche was undamaged and Merlin was unaware of the severity of his move, so continued his fight to the flag now in the lead of the GT4 class. After staying in the lead and pitting for the compulsory driver change, Frank Yu was able to get back on track just behind P1. He put his foot down and caught the lead driver within a lap before driving a faultless stint to the finish. After finishing in P1 the stewards disqualified the #77 entry from race one due to the incident with the other Cayman, which cost the pair some very valuable championship points.

Race Two

#88 IGOFX Porsche 911 GT3 R

Chris van der Drift started race two in P12 and immediately became involved in the frenzied fight for position in the mid-field. As he entered turn three, he was hit by an Audi and spun around. Van der Drift corrected and inadvertently tapped the Audi in the rear causing it spin into the gravel. This dropped van der Drift down into P19 before a separate incident caused a safety car period at the end of lap one. When the race restarted, van der Drift was now up to P15 and quickly gaining ground on his opponents. Just before the opening of the pit window, the #88 IGOFX driver had made it into P12 but was handed a harsh drive through penalty for the opening lap incident with the Audi. This caused a major setback for the #88 pair, having to undertake the drive through penalty and then the compulsory pit stop, which resulted in a huge gap to make up during his teammate’s stint. After the pit stop window had closed, Bhirombhakdi had re-joined the competition in P13 but had a big gap to close. He had the pace and was putting in some great lap times but didn’t have enough time to catch up, finishing race two in P13.

#99 VLT Porsche 911 GT3 R

Devon Modell made a strong start from P16 in the #99 VLT, gaining four positions before the safety car was called out. The British driver made a good restart to stay with the pack and pushed the Porsche to the limit as the pit window fast approached. Modell pitted right away to change to O’Young, handing the car over to the Hong Kong driver in P11, which gave them a good chance of breaking into the points. O’Young was quick to get up to speed and began to reel in the other drivers, managing to break into the top ten with 15 minutes remaining. From here, O’Young faced some tough battles, with drivers ahead and behind him. The experienced GT driver continued his push and was able to make headway while holding off the advances of the Porsche behind him until the chequered flag, where he finished the hour long race in P9 to score the #99’s first points of the season.

#77 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR

Starting from P3, Yu knew he had to get ahead of the competition to score maximum points after Saturday’s disqualification. Yu made the most of the start and it wasn’t long before he was able to catch P2 before the safety car was called out. With the field now bunched up, Yu could make his next move at the restart, and he was able to take the lead of the GT4 class not long after the restart. As the pit window approached, Yu was still working hard at building a gap but it wasn’t easy. Frank stayed out for a longer stint in the hopes of gaining the edge over their second place rivals. Once the change to Merlin was complete, he had enough breathing room to be able to focus on his pace and consistency. Merlin was able to pull away from P2 and eventually crossed the line after another flawless stint in first place, 45s ahead of the next competitor.


Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing

“I am happy to see both GT3 Porsches in the points this weekend. I feel that we were a little unlucky and were competitive enough to finish higher up and get some stronger results, but it is good to see improvements over round one. Fantastic race two result for Frank and Jean-Marc in the GT4 class, they are certainly going to be contenders for this year’s title and I am looking forward to seeing what they and the rest of the team can do in Suzuka next month.”

#88 IGOFX Porsche 911 GT3 R

Chris van der Drift

Race 1: “Toy started and kept out of trouble and moved up the order and managed to bring the car safely home to me. We had to stop an extra seven seconds because Toy and I were new this weekend, so that dropped us back more but still we came out a few places up the field. From there we chipped away and started to catch the other cars. We didn’t have the pace of the Ferarri but we were the quickest Porsche and came home in 10th position.“

Race 2: “Today’s race was a disaster! I got punted off by an Audi into the hairpin on the first lap. Luckily, we didn’t sustain any damage but it set us back. To make it worse we were handed a drive through penalty, which I don’t understand one bit. We were the ones off. From there once again we were the quickest Porsche out there and when Toy jumped in the car he was able to set his quickest lap times. I suppose it’s one of those races that could have been. Thanks to the team for their hard work and giving me the chance to drive the GT3R.”

#99 VLT Porsche 911 GT3 R

Naiyanobh Bhirombhakdi

Race 1: “It was my first race back in the Porsche 911 GT3 R and I am happy with how Craft-Bamboo has developed the car since last year. Taking a points finish was a good start to the weekend, but I know the car, Chris and I have more in us, so I am looking forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow starting a bit further up the grid.”

Race 2: “Bit of an unfortunate way to start the second race, especially since I think we had the pace to compete with some of the cars further up the field, but we did our best and I will always enjoy racing in front of my home crowd here in Thailand. Thanks to Craft-Bamboo again for the opportunity and I hope to compete with them again soon.”

Darryl O’Young

Race 1: “I had a good start and managed to pass a few cars at turn three, some other cars made contact so we were able to make up some more positions as well. I was able to stay with the pack but then there was a safety car which really hurt us because it closed the gap from the other cars and ruined our strategy. Devon did well for his first time driving the Porsche at a new circuit as well, so I hope we can make more improvements tomorrow.”

Race 2: “Devon started the race well and passed the car over to me in P11 or P12. There are some things with the setup that we could improve but I think we took a step forward this weekend. I was able to keep pace with the cars in front and finish P9 to get our first points of the year. We need to push forward but we have made some good progress.”

Devon Modell

Race 1: “It was a hard and eventful race from which I learnt a lot. We were unfortunate to lose 2 places in moves that were questionable to say the least and it’s disappointing to have finished just outside the top 10 after Darryl’s first stint but we can be happy with a 2nd in class from the 1st race and build on that in race 2.”

Race 2: “The start was a bit chaotic, so I just did my best to stay out of trouble in the 1st few corners. We were up to P12 when the safety car came out and once it came in, we ran a fairly lonely race maintaining position before pitting to Darryl who managed to make up a few places to bring the car home P9 overall.”

#77 Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR

Frank Yu

Race 1: “Jean-Marc handed the car over to me in P1 but we had a seven second success penalty from Sepang, so I came out P2. I was able to pass P1 within the first lap and just drove the race, kept the gap and finished P1. Unfortunately, the team told me that we received a penalty from earlier in the race. We will fight back for race two.”

Race 2: “I knew I just had to get ahead early on in my stint and thankfully I was able to make that happen. The car was fantastic and Jean-Marc did a great stint once I handed it over to him in P1 with about a 10s gap and he was able to increase that to 45s and get us the maximum number of points, which we really needed to bounce back from race one.”

Jean Marc Merlin

Race 1: “After taking the start from the last row I was able to pass the leader but made contact with him in the straight, an honest mistake for which I later apologized. Frank did a great job on the second stint. I look forward to Sunday’s race.”

Race 2: “After the disappointment of Saturday, the aim on Sunday was to use our pace to safely secure maximum points. Mission accomplished and we are now ready to take the title fight to Japan next month.”

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