Craft-Bamboo Racing were on their way to Bathurst 12 Hour glory before two crushing blows in the final 20 minutes dashed their hopes for victory and dropped them off the podium into fifth overall. Both the team and the trio of Porsche factory drivers had performed flawlessly, with Earl Bamber perfectly executing the team’s fuel strategy in the final stages of the endurance event to put them in line for victory. Unfortunately, a huge collision and subsequent red flag ended the race early, leaving the #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R to finish the race in P3 before being handed a devastating 30 second penalty. A glitch in the team’s strategy software meant Laurens Vanthoor exceeded his maximum drive time by two minutes, which only became apparent to the team after the race was declared. It was a very unfortunate way to end the weekend, but Craft-Bamboo proved once again that it can take the fight to the biggest international names in GT racing and finish at the front.
The EuroMechanica backed #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R started from P17 on the grid in the hands of Laurens Vanthoor. The Belgian GT ace made a strong start early on Sunday morning, working his way through the field and showing the pace of the Craft-Bamboo Porsche. Towards the end of his first stint, Vanthoor had made it up to P2 before changing to teammate Kevin Estre from hours four to six.
Estre continued Vanthoor’s push, further carving his way through the field to find himself battling for the lead with the Audi of Christopher Mies before it was time for Earl Bamber’s first stint in the #991 Porsche. Bamber fought his way up the order despite several safety car periods before Vanthoor and Estre faultlessly completed their second stints.
The team’s race was almost cut short during the ninth hour when Estre narrowly escaped being taken out by Chaz Mostert’s BMW in a multi-car incident. Thankfully, he was able to hold his line and escape relatively unscathed before continuing the climb back up to P4 as he handed over to Bamber with two and a half hours left.
Bamber put in another consistent performance to bring the car into the pits for what would be the final time in P6. As the race approached the final hour, the team’s strategy was adjusted to save fuel and get Bamber to the chequered flag without having to pit. The team knew it was going to be close but were confident that it would give him the jump on his rivals and allow them to take the race win. Bamber fought his way into P3 with 45 minutes remaining and was doing a stellar job of saving fuel and keeping ahead of the competition. With the two cars ahead having to refuel before the chequered flag, the team’s strategy was unfolding perfectly. Unfortunately, a huge crash at the top of the mountain in the closing stages of the race caused a lengthy safety car period, which meant both the Audi and Mercedes ahead could make it to the end of the race. The event was then red flagged and declared not long after, with the current order of cars standing. Without the untimely crash, both cars ahead of Bamber would have needed to pit, handing the victory to the #991 Porsche, but it was never meant to be. The Craft-Bamboo Porsche finished third out of a 50 plus grid but was then handed the devastating news regarding Vanthoor’s drive time. In only a short matter of time the team’s hopes were dashed and after the 30 second penalty was applied the #991 Porsche was classified fifth overall.
While it was not the ideal way to end the weekend, it was a mighty performance by the trio of drivers and the Craft-Bamboo Racing team and they will be returning to ‘The Mountain’ in search of victory in the future.
Darryl O’Young, Team Director of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“Thanks to everyone for the support all weekend! We had the perfect strategy to cross the line in first but after finishing third, we were given a 30 second penalty caused by a glitch in our strategy software. This put us two minutes over Vanthoor’s drive time, losing our podium in the process and ending up in fifth place, which was super disappointing for the team.
Big thanks to the drivers, engineers, and crew for the awesome job all week and over the last 12 hours. Not the way to finish after a faultless race on track to the flag, but that’s how racing goes sometimes.
Lastly, big thanks to our sponsors EuroMechanica, Biante Model Cars, AUTOart models, POAD, Gravity, KW Suspension, Orange Bus, Stand 21 Racewear, and Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific for the great support this weekend. We will be back to ‘The Mountain!’.”
Laurens Vanthoor, EuroMechanica #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“It was a tough result at the end, I had a three-hour stint early on where I was able to move from P17 to P2. It was a very positive start as the car had good pace, and in the middle of the race we had a good car to fight at the front. I want to say thank you to Craft-Bamboo Racing for their effort this weekend and I look forward to my next race with the team.”
Kevin Estre, EuroMechanica #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“The car was good, I drove the middle stints of the race and both times we were fighting at the front. I was lucky to escape the incident involving the BMW and Bentley near the end of my stint and we stuck to the plan of staying at the front and being there towards the end of the race. I feel we had a real shot at the win today and to not get the result at the end is a tough one for the team and the drivers. Thanks to the team and everyone who supported us this weekend, I hope we can come back again.”
Earl Bamber, EuroMechanica #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“Overall, I think it was a great first weekend, we had an awesome car and we managed to put the car in contention for the win. Regarding our podium, I think it is very unfortunate that we received the penalty but that is motorsport sometimes and I think it was a great showing to take it to all the other internationals around the world. Thank you to Craft-Bamboo for coming down, I hope we can come back and do it again.”