After a race long battle for the lead of the Sepang 12-Hour Endurance race, it was clear that Craft-Bamboo Racing was headed for a strong podium finish. However, lady luck did not agree and in the final hour of the race, an issue on the rear left corner of the car cost the team seven laps in the pit and ultimately their chance for a podium finish in Asia’s most competitive endurance race. Finishing the race in fourth place is an outstanding result, but it was also an emotional blow for a team that came so close to their best finish at the Sepang 12-Hour.
The crew immediately sprang into action to fix the #007 Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 when it suffered a rear hub failure, discovered in the final pit stop of the race. Eleven hours into the race, with their sights set on a podium finish and what would have been team’s first podium at the Sepang 12hr, that little issue turned into catastrophe for the team.
Before the final stop, the team was six laps ahead of the fourth placed Audi R8 of Absolute Racing. Despite the brilliant repair work and quick turnaround by the team, the repair took just one minute too long, allowing the Audi to take a 1 minute 30 second lead over the Craft-Bamboo Racing entry.
Stefan Mücke (DEU) who drove the final stint, pushed the car all the way to the chequered flag in his remaining 45 minute stint. It was a valiant effort by Mücke to try and close the gap, but he only managed to get it down to 1 minute by the end of the race. There was an obvious disappointment in his voice when he spoke over the radio saying that he tried his best till there was nothing left.
“It’s really a shame that we lost the podium in the last pit-stop. There was a little issue and we had to get on top of it and we lost about seven laps. We knew that the gap was quite big, more than a minute, but I think I managed to close the gap by about 30 seconds but that was not enough for a P3 at the end.
“It’s very disappointing after fighting for so long in P2, then losing it with the safety car and at the end losing P3 at the pit-stop with a technical problem. It’s a shame but that’s racing, something that happens in 12-hour races. The drivers and the crew did no mistakes, it was a great effort but it was just unlucky for us and disappointing as the team deserved more” ended Mücke.
Earlier, Frank Yu (HKG) completed his final stint during the twilight hour and was on pace in a comfortable third. He was able to maintain his position before passing the car on to Warren Luff (AUS). Yu came out of the car looking contented with his hour but missed out on the safety car period that was called after he did a driver change. “The stint was good but our scheduled stop came just at the wrong time because after one or two laps, the safety car came out and we lost two laps to the Clearwater cars.
“We got unlucky, they got lucky and that’s it. It will be impossible to catch two laps, because we are running at about the same pace now so hopefully we can finish like this and finish on the podium. Two hours to go and I hear the rain is coming”.
And right after Yu said that, the rain started, just a few laps into Luff’s final stint, everyone was being cautious but maintained on the slicks as the rain continued to the end of the race.
“It got a little bit scary out there for a while because it started to sprinkle around the back part of the circuit and being out there on slicks, the circuit was a little bit slippery. At that stage we had a comfortable lead over fourth place so I just tried to stay out of trouble and keep the car on the road and went through the paces of finishing the stint.
“When I came in to the pit-stop, the boys unfortunately found a problem with the rear hub which is disappointing because I think we are running in a comfortable third place. There is obviously still some racing to go but it’s going to be a tough battle from here to the finish” ended Luff.
Disappointment was apparent in the faces of the team and drivers, as Craft-Bamboo Racing crossed the line in fourth place. It was a hard fought race, one the team should be proud of, but it has left the team extremely motivated to return in 2015 to hunt for the coveted Malaysia Merdeka Endurance race title.
Craft-Bamboo Racing was formed as the result of a merger between two renowned race teams – GT and endurance winners Craft Racing AMR and WTCC Independent champions Bamboo Engineering – to form Craft-Bamboo Racing. The partnership was announced early April, prior to the team’s first outing at the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Europe.
In the 2014, Craft-Bamboo Racing competes in three race series from around the world – in Europe with the FIA World Endurance Championship, and in Asia with the GT Asia Series and the Asian Le Mans Series. The team also enters a variety of endurance races, including the 24 Hour of Le Mans, the Sepang 12 Hour and also the 24 Hours Dubai.
Craft-Bamboo Racing’s efforts are made possible with the support of team partners: Gravity Partnership, POAD, Interush, Ravenol, Kee Wah Bakery, Racerlink, Orangebus and Tunewear.