Team Hong Kong Craft-Bamboo Racing’s line-up made up of Hong Kong athletes Jonathan Hui, Antares Au, Frank Yu and Kevin Tse had high expectations going into the 2020 Dubai 24 Hours, given their previous successes at the desert endurance race. Running a historic black and gold Mercedes-AMG livery, the team started the weekend from a strong position after a mega lap in qualifying by Jon Hui. Hui’s effort put the #69 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in 18th overall and 7th in the GT3-AM class, only 1.7 seconds off the overall pole position.
In the race, the team worked brilliantly together despite this being the drivers’ first outing together in the Mercedes-AMG GT3. A combination of consistent lap-times from the drivers and quick strategic calls from the team meant that by the end of the 5th hour, the #69 entry had risen up the order and led the GT3-AM class. However heavy rainfall in the night and a tyre choice gamble saw the team drop down to 5th place, with the race eventually red-flagged with just 7 hours of racing completed. Unfortunately, Team Hong Kong Craft-Bamboo Racing’s great pace was unrealized, and the #69 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was classified 14th overall and 5th in the GT3-AM class.
#69 Mercedes-AMG GT3 [Jonathan Hui]
1:59.223 – P7 in class [P18 overall]
With the threat of rain looming over the circuit as the race began, all the teams and drivers were slightly on edge heading into the 24 hour race. With the teams experience in this race, the strategy was always to remain slightly conservative, with the knowledge that this was a race of attrition. It was important to remain calm, and stay in contention for the first 16 hours, before attacking in the final 8 hours to go for the win.
Jonathan Hui started the race for the team and quickly got into a groove, managing the pace well despite a busy circuit with traffic and several battles for position. By the end of the first hour, steady progress meant that the #69 entry had moved up into 4th in class, and 14th overall, placing the team in a good position.
An opportunistic strategic call during a virtual safety car period meant that when Frank Yu took over the controls by the end of the second hour, the #69 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was already in the GT3-AM podium positions, and 12th in the overall standings. As nightfall began to descend on the circuit, Yu continued to push on into the darkness as the rain still threatened to fall.
Going into the 3rd hour of the race, consistent lap-times and quick reaction in strategies by the team meant that Craft-Bamboo Racing had made it up to 8th overall and 1st in the GT3-AM class. With the rain still holding off, the team decided for Au to stay on the slick tyres.
However, one lap later, the rain that had been looming over the circuit all race long finally began to fall, and the conditions were extremely tricky with parts of the pitch-dark circuit staying dry and wet on the others. The conditions did not improve as quickly as the team expected, leaving Au with extremely difficult situation with slick tyres on a wet track, eventually falling back down to 6th in class and 15th position overall at the end of the 5th hour of racing. The team would make a charge back up the order, climbing back to 5th place and catching the leaders lap by lap.
However, with the heavy rain continuing to fall on the circuit throughout the night, significant amounts of standing water had accumulated on many parts of the circuit, and a red flag was called as it was too dangerous for cars to continue racing. After a lengthy stoppage, the organizers called a premature end to the 2020 Dubai 24 Hours after just 7 hours of racing completed. Unfortunately Team Hong Kong Craft-Bamboo Racing were in a compromised position when the race was stopped, and were classified as 5th in the GT3-AM class, and 14th overall.
Team Hong Kong Craft-Bamboo Racing would like to thank the sponsors, Spring, SSG Capital, Gravity, Contempo Concept and Zung Fu for making this event possible, and to the drivers and crew for their stellar effort despite the shortened race result.
Jonathan Hui | Driver #69 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“What a disappointing end to our 2020 Dubai 24H campaign as we had a very strong chance to bring home a podium finish. I started the race from P7 and had some epic battles throughout the first hour. The team made a few stellar strategy calls which effectively put us in the lead of GT3-AM class after 2 hours.
Unfortunately, when the rain started coming we made a wrong gamble on tire choice and fell back to P5 before the race got red flagged. I must say stopping the race was absolutely the correct thing to do as it was simply too dangerous to continue. Lastly, a big thank you to Craft Bamboo Racing, Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing and all our supporters back home in Hong Kong.”
Antares Au | Driver #69 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Our team expected the changeable weather to be a crucial element of this year’s race. We established a strong pace early into the race, and were primed to challenge the class win at restart.
It was great disappointment that extensive flooding of the track facilities prevented a restart, but the organizers were right to suspend and ultimately abort after the surveying the severe track conditions.
I’d like to thank Craft-Bamboo Racing for their top execution of this event. The performance and strategy aspects of the AMG GT3 were consistently on the sharp end of the field. I am confident that the results would have come if our endeavour wasn’t cut short at 7 hours.”
Frank Yu | Driver #69 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Despite the race being cut short due to the severe flooding from the rain, it was a pleasure to be back behind the wheel, sharing the cockpit with Jonathan, Antares and Kevin. We started from 7th in the GT3-AM class and through great strategic calls and consistent pace we had worked our way up to the lead of the class and 8th in the outright standings.
However, the heavy rain and tyre choice meant that unfortunately we fell back down the order, and when the red flag was called, our position was compromised. It was a shame that the race was called early as we had shown our front-running pace, but ultimately it was the right decision and I hope to be back again next year to give it another shot.”
Kevin Tse | Driver #69 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Throughout the entire Dubai 24 Hours we have showed good form and pace, starting from Jon’s great lap in qualifying, right up to the point in the night where the conditions took a turn for the worse. Unfortunately, the race was cut short so we couldn’t show our potential, which is disappointing as we were in a good position to fight for the win. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, I’d still like to extend my thanks to Craft-Bamboo Racing, Zung Fu and the sponsors for the support throughout the whole weekend.”
Darryl O”Young | Director of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“The team did a great job this week from beginning to end. We all worked well as a team, and that proved to make a difference, as strong teamwork gave us the chance to lead our class for several hours. It’s a big shame the race was cut short, as I am confident the strategy would’ve played further into our hands if we continued to race past the 7-hour mark. Nevertheless, the drivers and crew gave their maximum effort, and that’s all we can ask for in a difficult event like the Dubai 24hrs.”