The Hong Kong-based squad is one of Asia’s finest having claimed the TCR International Teams’ title in 2016. That came just a year after also winning GT Asia’s Drivers’ championship with Darryl O’Young, and sealing outright podium finishes at the Bathurst 12 Hour and FIA GT World Cup races in Australia and Macau, respectively.
Now Craft-Bamboo is aiming to reignite its rivalry with the likes of Phoenix Racing Asia and FFF Racing Team in Blancpain GT Series Asia. Its pair of brand-new Porsches are the first 911s to be confirmed in the championship’s GT3 class, which already features full-season Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG and Audi entries.
While both of the team’s GT3 crews and fresh 911 liveries will be revealed soon, Craft-Bamboo has named a familiar driver pairing for its sole GT4 entry: Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin.
Hong Kong racer Yu was part of the line-up that helped Craft-Bamboo finish fourth in last season’s GT Asia GT3 Teams’ standings, but makes the move to GT4 aboard the same car with which he claimed third in last season’s Dubai 24 Hours. The 53-year-old, who began racing in 2007, is also a former Malaysian Super Series GT champion and has been a GT Asia and Asian Le Mans Series GTC class runner-up.
“I am very excited to join the Blancpain GT Series Asia this year in the GT4 class,” he said. “I think the GT4 category will become a great success and it is a perfect platform for Bronze drivers. I have a lot of faith in this series and I believe we will put forth a very competitive package that should give us a shot at the championship.
“I really liked driving the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR after taking a podium finish in the 24 Hours of Dubai earlier this year. I am glad to be back racing with Jean-Marc Merlin, with whom I have teamed up with a number of times in endurance events. We both have driven Porsches in the past and can’t wait to take on the rest of the GT4 field come early April.”
Meanwhile, Singapore-based Frenchman Merlin partnered Yu in a Craft-Bamboo-prepared Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 at the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour. But he is perhaps best known for his Porsche exploits, having competed in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Le Mans 24 Hours aboard a Porsche 911 RSR. Last season he raced in the European Le Mans Series’ LMP3 class.
“I am really looking forward to racing once again with Craft-Bamboo Racing and Frank Yu. We will be taking the competition very seriously but we aim to have fun while doing so,” he said. “I have wanted to compete in the Blancpain GT Series for a long time and I am happy to be participating in what is promising to be a very successful Asian series.
“I will be making the move back to Porsches again after having competed in the PCCA and 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as many historic races. The biggest challenge for me will be forgetting prototype race techniques after competing in WEC and ELMS in LMP2 and LMP3 Ligiers.”
Craft-Bamboo Racing CEO Richard Coleman added that the championship’s multi-class format had proven a major selling point.
“We are pleased to announce Craft-Bamboo Racing’s move to the Blancpain GT Series Asia as it gives us the opportunity to run cars in the GT3 and GT4 classes. Porsche Motorsport has worked hard on the development of both cars over the past year and we have high expectations for the coming season. With the cars fully prepared we will be announcing our high-calibre GT3 driver line-up over the coming weeks.
“Our line-up of Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin in the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR should prove to be very strong as the pair are hugely experienced with the manufacturer as well as top level international racing. With our soon to be revealed GT3 driver line-ups we will be aiming to take not only the GT3 title but also the GT4 championship this year as well.”
The opening round of this season’s inaugural Blancpain GT Series Asia campaign takes place at Sepang in Malaysia on April 8/9.
2017 Blancpain GT Series Asia Schedule
April 8/9 Sepang, Malaysia
May 20/21 Chang International Circuit, Thailand
June 24/25 Suzuka, Japan
August 19/20 Fuji Speedway, Japan
September 23/24 Shanghai, China
October 21/22 Zhejiang, China
Source. SRO Motorsports Group