Craft-Bamboo Racing has secured two recent 24 Hours of Le Mans winners for their Suzuka 10 Hour driver line-up. This announcement comes only five days after Laurens Vanthoor and Kevin Estre took victory in the GTE Pro class at the world famous 24 Hours of Le Mans in the world’s most iconic Porsche, the ‘Pink Pig’. Completing the trio will be young Porsche driver, Mathieu Jaminet, who is best known for his domination of the Porsche Carrera Cup France. Both the team and drivers are solely focused on claiming victory in the ten-hour endurance event which will run from the 24th-26th of August as part of the SRO’s Intercontinental GT Challenge.
Craft-Bamboo is eager to build on their effort that began with the opening round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge in February. A perfect strategy in the Bathurst 12 Hour had the team in contention for the win until a crushing red flag prematurely ended their chance with only 20 minutes remaining. With a consistent line-up in Estre and Vanthoor, and the introduction of young gun Jaminet, Craft-Bamboo’s motivation to claim victory at Suzuka in August is unrelenting.
Laurens Vanthoor joins Craft-Bamboo Racing for the third time and is well prepared to step back behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 R. After contesting numerous sprint and endurance events in the Porsche around the world since early last year, Vanthoor is one of the most highly experienced drivers who will put his skills to good use during his first outing at Suzuka. The newly minted Le Mans winner is determined to take the fight to the 35 strong field of GT cars come race day and is further spurred on by his desire for redemption after the team’s effort in the Bathurst 12 Hour earlier this year.
Kevin Estre is no stranger to Craft-Bamboo after his first competitive foray with the team in February. A former double Porsche Carrera Cup champion, who has claimed both the French and German titles is hugely proficient at the helm of the 911 GT3 R. Estre has shown incredible pace in the car over the past couple of years, which has helped him to amass numerous victories and podiums in top level GT3 competition. He was instrumental in Craft-Bamboo’s exceptional performance at Mount Panorama in February and he is now looking to clench that so far elusive Intercontinental GT Challenge win and add to his accolades with victory in Suzuka.
Mathieu Jaminet completes the Porsche factory line-up and the young driver is not short of experience in a Porsche. After rising through karts and Formula 4, the talented driver from Luxembourg made the switch to Porsche in 2015, taking second in the Porsche Carrera Cup France that same year. He would go on to take the title in 2016, dominating the competition with ten wins, 12 podiums and nine pole positions, while simultaneously scoring third overall in the Porsche Supercup. Since 2017, Jaminet has taken wins and podiums in some of the world’s biggest GT3 races in the Porsche 911 GT3 R, which makes him the perfect candidate for Craft-Bamboo’s assault on the Suzuka 10 Hour. The young Porsche driver will join the team in Suzuka next week to get familiar with the circuit during the unofficial test session for the Blancpain GT Series Asia weekend.
Darryl O’Young, Director of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“I’m extremely excited that Porsche have confirmed this top line-up for our team. It shows Porsche’s intention to fight for the overall win in August, by confirming two recent Le Mans 24 Hours winners in Laurens and Kevin, whom both have recently worked with our team. Mathieu is new to us, but already we see his professionalism and of course his great speed as he competes in the Porsche 911 GT3 R all around the world. Consistency is key, and our crew and engineers have learnt a lot from the Bathurst 12 Hour and we will continue the hard work in the coming months to ensure we are fully prepared for the event.”
Laurens Vanthoor, Driver
“I am really happy to go to Suzuka, as I have never been before, I think it is a track that every driver wishes to go to, so I think it will be a very cool experience. I think we need to avenge what happened to us in Bathurst, but it will be a good weekend to join Kevin again and see Mathieu. I am really looking forward to the experience with Craft-Bamboo once again.”
Kevin Estre, Driver
“I am very happy to go to Suzuka, it is a track that I have been dreaming to race on since I began watching Formula 1 as a child. I cannot wait to drive the circuit in the Porsche 911 GT3 R and I think with Craft-Bamboo we need to make amends for what happened in Bathurst because we were good there. We had a car which was able to win but unfortunately some unforeseen variables prevented a victory, but we had the pace as well as the spirit. Craft-Bamboo gave us a fast car, so I hope that is the case again in Suzuka. I really like Japan, so I think we will do well there.”
Mathieu Jaminet, Driver
“I am really looking forward to be joining Craft-Bamboo Racing for the first time and for my first IGTC race in Suzuka. To join the other drivers, it is really a dream and I really can’t wait to drive on this track. It is going to be really exciting to drive there on the test day and to join the two Le Mans winners for the race is fantastic. Everything is new, but I am looking forward to joining Craft-Bamboo who showed really good performance in Bathurst earlier this year, so I am sure we will perform well. I can’t wait to meet everyone and to drive.”
Alexandre Gibot, Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific
“It will be great to work again with Craft-Bamboo Racing, with whom we almost won the Bathurst 12 Hour with earlier in the year. In Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Mathieu Jaminet, the team has three very talented drivers and we’re excited to see how they perform at the Suzuka 10 Hours. The Porsche 911 GT3 R has shown good speed here in the past with Craft-Bamboo, where they took a fantastic pole position and second-place finish in last season’s Blancpain GT Asia Series round. Alongside bringing the factory driver line-up, Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific will also provide engineering and technical support leading up to, and on site during the event, as well as ensuring adequate parts supply.”