Despite an amazing team effort to improve the car every session and a points finish in race 1, it was a tough season finale for Craft-Bamboo Racing as both cars were involved in incidents across the two races on the weekend.
Race 1 began with the #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Sandy Stuvik and Shae Davies getting caught up in an unavoidable first lap incident, with a Nissan spinning into the path of Stuvik, leaving him with serious damage and forced to retire the car. However, Darryl O’Young and Aidan Read showed the potential of the Porsche 911 GT3 R, with O’Young fighting through the field and running in the top 5 before getting unlucky with slower traffic before the pit-stop, which resulted in the #991 losing track position after the round of driver changes. Read battled hard to get back up to P7, but eventually finished P10 after a long battle with the surrounding cars. Diana Rosario and Naomi Zhang, driving the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT4, made history by finishing their first ever race together as an all-female crew in the Blancpain GT Series Asia in P4.
Race 2 saw yet another first lap incident, with Aidan Read in the #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R getting hit from behind and had contact with another car, ending his race. The #911 car with Shae Davies at the wheel managed to get a clean start and was involved in an epic 5 car battle up till the stops. But with 18 minutes to go, Sandy Stuvik had contact with another car which pitched him into a spin, which resulted in damage to the #911 car and had to retire. The #88 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Rosario and Zhang had another clean race, managing to avoid incidents and finished P6 in class.
P8 – Shae Davies (#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R) – 1:43.444
P10 – Darryl O’Young (#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R) – 1:43.877
P8 – Naomi Zhang (#88 Mercedes-AMG GT4) – 2:01.588
P14 – Sandy Stuvik (#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R) – 1:43.451
P13 – Aidan Read (#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R) – 1:43.308
P5 – Diana Rosario (#88 Mercedes-AMG GT4) – 1:55.244
#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R
After a good qualifying session that saw Sandy Stuvik start race 1 in P8, the #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R got caught up in an unfortunate, unavoidable incident on the first lap. As Stuvik went around turn 2, he found a Nissan rolling backwards directly into his path. With Darryl O’Young in the sister #991 Porsche on his outside, Stuvik had nowhere to go and sustained damage to the front end of the Porsche, forcing him to retire.
#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R
Darryl O’Young started the race in P10 and managed to avoid the first lap dramas, narrowly missing the Nissan that took out the sister #911 car. O’Young gained a few places and found himself in P6 before the ensuing safety car period from the first lap incident. Later on in his stint, O’Young managed to pull off a bold overtake on an Audi, and drove consistently for the remainder of his stint in P5 before losing one position just before the pit-stop window. However, a lot of time was lost on the in-lap before the pit stop, with O’Young getting stuck behind slower traffic that had just pitted and were on cold tyres.
When Aidan Read was handed the car, he emerged from the pits in P8 due to the loss of time in traffic before the pit-stops. Read then found himself in an enthralling scrap with a Bentley a few laps later and after putting pressure for almost a whole lap, forced the car in front into a mistake and swiftly took P7. In the closing minutes of the race, another safety car period meant that the entire field was bunched up together. Read then had to attack and defend his position at the same time whilst making his way safely through slower traffic. Due to the slower traffic in the mix, Read got caught up and was forced wide, losing two positions and eventually finishing P10.
#88 Mercedes-AMG GT4
Naomi Zhang started the all-female pairing’s first race together in P8, and did well to avoid first lap dramas up ahead. Despite running at the back of the field, Zhang drove a clean stint, avoiding any incidents from the faster GT3 traffic and gaining valuable experience with the GT4 class cars. Zhang then handed the car over to Diana Rosario in P8.
Rosario quickly got to work after the pit-stops, proceeding to push hard and fight through the field. She managed to gain 2 positions soon after the driver change, and 3 laps from the end, overtook another car. As a result of their mature and clean driving, the pair eventually finished P4, narrowly missing out on a podium on their first outing together.
#911 Porsche 911 GT3 R
Shae Davies started in P14, and despite being in the midfield where the most incidents occur, managed to avoid any contact on the first lap. Davies then proceeded to fight his way through the field, and was involved in an exciting 5-car battle. After defending brilliantly against the car behind, he saw an opportunity and managed to pull off a daring overtake on the inside of the tight chicane. Davies ran as high as P12 up to the pit-stops.
When Davies handed the car over to Sandy Stuvik at the end of his stint, Stuvik was determined to show what the Porsche was capable of. However with 18 minutes to go, whilst running P14, Stuvik had contact which resulted in a spin and damage. He stopped by the side of the circuit and had to retire the car, unfortunately not able to show off the true pace of the Porsche.
#991 Porsche 911 GT3 R
Starting P13, Aidan Read and Darryl O’Young were keen to gain positions after finishing a points finish in the first race. However, first lap contact with another car sent Read him out of control and into the path of an incoming Ferrari. The resulting contact left Read with broken suspension and despite several attempts to get the car moving, Read had no choice but to end the race prematurely for the #991.
#88 Mercedes-AMG GT4
Diana Rosario started the last race of the season in P5 in class, and took a safe approach to the first lap. This paid off, as she managed to avoid the first lap dramas. Rosario then caught up with the cars ahead, and pushed hard to gain places in a closely fought race in the GT4 class. In a multi-way battle on lap 6, Rosario managed to pass 2 cars on the same lap. Rosario drove a consistent stint in P3 before handing the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT4 to Naomi Zhang.
Zhang then drove a clean and consistent stint, improving on pace every lap and tried to hold the position till the end of the race, but eventually dropped back down to P6. A clean race driven by both newcomers to the series and the experience gained in the GT4 class means that the all-female crew are motivated to get back on track soon.
Russell O’Hagan, Operations Director of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“Ningbo proved to be a difficult weekend for the team as our results were hampered by the poor suitability of the car to the unique circuit characteristics and further compounded by a number of incidents during the races.
Whilst all of that made for a very disappointing end to the season my sincere thanks and congratulations go out to the team and drivers for their continued hard work and dedication. We had some big hurdles to overcome during the weekend and each one was conquered professionally and in good spirits.
We couldn’t have asked for anything more and I am very proud of how we went racing all season long”
Sandy Stuvik – Driver #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“A difficult weekend overall. We have had some balance issues throughout the practices, but managed to find a solution for qualifying.
Unfortunately the races didn’t go so well as I couldn’t avoid the collision in Race 1.
Race 2 was also unfortunate and ending the final weekend with 2 DNFs, but the team has done a fantastic job all season and I can’t thank them enough for all their efforts.”
Shae Davies – Driver #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“Obviously not the way we wanted to end the season after the solid year we have had. However I believe we can hold our heads high after what Sandy, myself & the #911 crew have achieved over the season. Huge thanks must go to everyone at Craft-Bamboo racing for all their hard work this season. It’s been a pleasure going racing with them and I hope to do it again in 2019!”
Aidan Read – Driver #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“Qualifying and race 1 went well from my side. I pushed to get as much as I could from the car. Darryl and I started P10 and ended P10, but it was so much more complicated than that with constant battling from cars in front and behind.
In race 2 unfortunately I got caught up in a racing incident and damaged the front left corner. I made up positions off the start, but felt a hit from behind which started a chain reaction and put us out of the race.
Not the way I’d hoped to finish the season, but I’ve had a great time working with the team and have developed a lot thanks to their professionalism and preparation.”
Darryl O’Young – Driver #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“Qualifying went pretty well, had a good lap going but unfortunately had traffic which is a problem on this track. But luckily I got another lap in which was good enough for P10. Think the potential could have been a top 8, but unfortunately that wasn’t realised but overall not too bad for a starting position.
Had a good start in race 1, was able to get past several cars and avoid incidents in the first few corners. Overall in the race, we didn’t have the pace to stay with the leaders, especially because the car was difficult to handle with full fuel load on this track. Managed to overtake one Audi and passed the car over to Aidan in P6. We got a little unlucky on the in-lap getting caught up in a bunch of cars that had already pitted and were circulating on cold tyres, which cost us a lot of time and track position.
Unfortunately Aidan had contact with one of the Nissans in Race 2, so I didn’t get to drive in this session but overall I just want to thank the team for a great season. We struggled a lot this year with pace but the team kept a strong, positive attitude and maximised performance as much as we could and look forward to coming back next year!”
Diana Rosario – Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT4
“I think it was a very positive race weekend. Thanks to the team, we made improvements in every session and showed that the girls are also competitive in this series.
Naomi did a great job in Race 1 to minimize the gap to the cars in front, at the same time keeping the tyres in good condition for me. I managed to overtake 3 cars in my stint and finished P4 in the end!
As I expected at the start of Race 2, I got overtaken by the BMW instantly at the start. But I took the chance to overtake two cars at T4 and T5 whilst they were fighting. I then handed the car to Naomi in P4 but with the influence of GT3 overtaking, we lost 2 places at the end and finished 6th.
Naomi Zhang – Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT4
“I am very grateful to Mercedes AMG China and LSH for the opportunity, and special thanks to Craft-Bamboo Racing for the professional service!
It was a fruitful weekend for me. First full female GT team in Asia, first experience in Blancpain GT Series Asia, first time behind the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 and the first try on the challenging Ningbo circuit. I’m happy with the progress we made in the past week and I am more determined for my future plans.”