It was an emotional race in round five at Fuji Speedway for Craft-Bamboo Racing, with the newcomers Kevin Gleason (USA) and Jon Venter (AUS) in the #99 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 making a strong charge from P14 up to P6. However, disappointment struck the #97 car of Stefan Mücke (DEU) and Frank Yu (HKG) after contact on the opening lap of the race. They later decided to cut the race short as the front splitter vibrations got worse. The duo completed only 24 laps in the one hour race.
The young pairing of Gleason and Venter proved to be a formidable duo as they made use of quick consistent laps times and a perfect pit-stop to finish the race in sixth from fourteenth. Gleason started the race for the duo in the #99 and quickly moved up several positions during his stint. There was a short Safety Car period in the opening half of the race, which benefitted him and by the time he handed the car over to Venter, the duo were up in 10th.
Gleason had the hard task of keeping the car in one piece with the hectic start, but the 28-year old kept his head down and stayed out of trouble. “It was a good start, a little hectic in the beginning, a couple of guys running into each other, which helped us. I managed to get into a rhythm and run consistent laps, which was part of our strategy to have a good result.
“To finish P6 was an excellent result, especially with the lack of time we both had in the car this week. The driver change made it exciting and having a pit-stop made it a total team effort for the race. As for tomorrow, we have better tyres so I think we will be in good shape to get another good result” ended Gleason.
For Venter, the car was handed to him in great condition in tenth, “the car was good, and in one piece so I was happy about that” jokes Venter.
“The tyres were consistent and the handling was good, the changes we made worked so it was a pretty good package. It was a hard stint, there was a lot of traffic and a lot of cars that I had to overtake but towards the end when I caught up to the faster ones, it felt pretty competitive again.
It was the last lap and at the very last corner that Venter managed to get #99 up to sixth, overtaking NB Team’s Aston right before the chequered flag. “The last two laps were definitely interesting but the last lap I had to pull everything out to try and get past the other Aston and luckily it paid off. I am really happy about that and also for the team!”
Mücke who started the race for the pair in the #97 said, “It wasn’t the best race for us. The start was actually okay, there were some bumps going on and I was hit in the rear, then I hit the Ferrari who had a problem with his exit. We had a little damage to our front left and after that we had some vibrations. The car wasn’t very good in high speed corners but we were able to continue but after the driver change the vibrations became more and we decided to stop for safety reasons.”
In the end, after the driver change, Yu only managed three laps before bringing the car in. “Stefan had a little contact into turn one at the start of the race, which caused some damage to the splitter, it was coming off and flapping. When I got in the car, it was getting worse and worse, so I came back in, we checked the car, did a quick fix and I went out again but it didn’t work so the team decided to retire the car for safety reasons” said Yu.
QUALIFYING 1 & 2
Solid qualifying effort for Craft-Bamboo Racing
After days of typhoon warnings, the skies cleared up for the two GT Asia Series qualifying sessions held at Fuji Speedway Circuit today where Craft-Bamboo Racing put in a solid effort in the strong 35 car grid.
The first qualifying session, with car #97 driven by Stefan Mücke (DEU) and car #99 by Kevin Gleason (USA), was marred by a red flag halfway through the session which forced both cars to abort their quickest laps. Both Mücke and Gleason were unable to better their times after getting caught behind traffic in the second part of the session. The car #97 duo will start round five from sixth on the grid, whilst the pairing of car #99 will start from 14th.
The second qualifying went a little better with a clean uninterrupted session, however traffic was still a big factor for both the #97 driver, Frank Yu (HKG) and #99 driver, Jon Venter (AUS). Despite the issues, both drivers still managed strong performances with both cars putting in top ten result. GTA newcomer Venter impressed putting the #99 in fourth place overall while Yu, using a different tire strategy, ended his session early and placed sixth for the start of race two.
Qualifying 1 - Car #97, Stefan Mücke
Not the best qualifying, we ran very early into traffic then there was the red flag so we haven’t used the peak from the new tyres so we went out again but there was nothing left in the tyres, unfortunately. I think our race pace will be better.
Qualifying 2 - Car #99, Jonathan Venter
We had a long red flag which happened to come out while I was going through the final corner on, by far, my best lap and what I think was the peak of my tyres, so I had to abort that lap. We have improved the session over the weekend, which is positive but still a little frustrated with the final result of the qualifying.
Qualifying 2 - Car #97, Frank Yu
The overall grip level of the circuit is not great the whole weekend. On the flying lap, we got caught in some traffic, it wasn’t big but it was enough to cost me about half a second. Sitting on P6, we decided to come in early and save the tyres for the race. I could have pushed a bit more but the race is more important than qualifying.
Qualifying 2 - Car #99, Kevin Gleason
The car felt really good in the first few laps, but there was a lot of traffic and I was struggling to get past, they don’t really check their mirrors. Anyway, the clean laps that I got were pretty good, so I am happy with the time and I am happy with the position.
The Fuji Speedway Circuit is located at the foothills of Mount Fuji in the Shizuoka Prefecture. The circuit is a favourite among drivers as it is a technical circuit that is combined with a varying degree of elevation. The circuit is also known to have one of the longest straights of any race circuit at 1.5km.
Round six is scheduled to be held at 4.25pm on Sunday, 13th July.
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.