After a successful pre-season test, Craft-Bamboo Racing are looking to begin the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia season at the Sepang International Circuit with a strong result in the team’s biggest ever line-up. Craft-Bamboo Racing, an Official Performance Team of Mercedes-AMG, will be fielding a trio of Mercedes-AMG GT3’s and a single GT4 entry in a bid for success in both classes.
The J-Fly Racing pairing of Jeffrey Lee and Alessio Picariello will be at the helm of the red and white #88 Mercedes-AMG, whilst the Silver Cup pairing of Christina Nielsen and Darryl O’Young sharing the cockpit of the green and white #99 car. Also making their GT3 race debut for the team will be the Pro-am pairing of Daniel Au and Melvin Moh in the striking pink and black #55 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
In GT4 class, 2017 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia GT4 champions Frank Yu and Jean-Marc Merlin return to the wheel of the #77 Mercedes-AMG for a full season assault, and will be looking to once again challenge for the title.
#55 | Daniel Au & Melvin Moh
After making his racing debut in the GT4 class as part of the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Asia championship, Daniel Au makes the step up to top-level GT3 machinery with Craft-Bamboo Racing for 2019. The Singaporean GT driver has labelled his inagural GT3 season as a learning year, with an aim to adapting to the faster and higher downforce cars with Craft-Bamboo Racing.
Au’s teammate, Melvin Moh, is a widely experienced Malaysian single seater and GT race car driver, having achieved success at the Dubai 24 Hour and most recently in the Japanese Super Taikyu series in 2018, scoring 3 podiums and finished 4th overall in the top GT3 class. Alongside his active motorsport involvement, Moh has been an instructor with the AMG Driving Academy for 6 years, and will be working alongside Au to fast-track his development in the Mercedes-AMG GT3.
#88 | Jeffrey Lee & Alessio Picariello
Jeffrey Lee and Alessio Picariello present a strong pairing for the #88 entry, with the pair having already scored one race win in the Mercedes-AMG at the Asia GT Festival earlier in the year. Jeffrey Lee makes the switch to Mercedes-AMG with Craft-Bamboo Racing for his return to the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia, and will be looking to add to his success in the 2018 Audi R8 LMS Cup and the 2017 Blancpain GT Asia Series.
Belgian ace Alessio Picariello is no stranger to GT3 machinery and has championship winning credential; winning the 2017 Audi R8 LMS Cup as well as the 2013 ADAC Formel Masters championship. Despite only being 25 years old, Belgian ace Alessio Picariello has already demonstrated his speed with 3 pole positions in the 2017 Blancpain GT Series Asia season, as well as competing in the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup and ADAC GT Masters European championships.
#99 | Christina Nielsen & Darryl O’Young
After completing a two-day evaluation test at the Sepang International Circuit in March Craft-Bamboo Racing were quick to sign the talented Dane after demonstrating her pace. The 27 year old commanding resume with a wide array of GT experience, highlighted by taking back-to-back GT3 championship victories in the 2016 and 2017 IMSA Sportscar Championships.
Joining Nielsen in the #99 car will be Hong Kong GT driver Darryl O’Young. The 2015 GT Asia Champion and multiple Macau Grand Prix winner continues on for a 3rd consecutive season in the competitive Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia championship with Craft-Bamboo Racing.
#77 | Frank Yu & Jean-Marc Merlin
Returning for a full season campaign in the GT4 class are Jean-Marc Merlin and experienced GT driver Frank Yu. The pair, who took championship victory in the 2017 iteration of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia series, will be fronting Craft-Bamboo Racing’s single-car entry in the GT4 class with the Mercedes-AMG GT4.
Frank Yu has high expectations for the upcoming season, showing top form after taking a podium earlier in the year at the Asia GT Festival. His highly experienced teammate, Jean-Marc Merlin, also has his sights set high after completing a successful test with the team, setting highly competitive times and getting acquainted with the Mercedes-AMG GT4 after the winter break. The pair have proven to work well together, and will be a force to be reckoned with this upcoming season.
Practice begins on Friday at 1215hrs followed by the qualifying sessions on Saturday at 1135hrs. Race 1 begins at 1615hrs on Saturday, and Race 2 is at 1050hrs on Sunday. (All times in GMT +8)
Darryl O’Young | Driver #99 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“It was helpful that the team was at Sepang testing and racing earlier in March, which will help us get a jump-start on the weekend as the team already has a good base setup. However conditions change quite a bit at Sepang, so the team has to work hard to ensure we have a strong car and the drivers will be able to maximise performance on the weekend. Really looking forward to getting the new season started, and working with my new engineer, Dirk, as well as my new teammate Christina!”
Christina Nielsen| Driver #99 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Really looking forward to being back with Craft-Bamboo Racing after a few productive test days getting to know the team and the car. I feel ready after driving the Mercedes-AMG at the Laguna Seca 8hrs, and it which will no doubt will prove to be beneficial for the upcoming weekend. It’ll be my first time racing in Asia and I’m excited to take it all in and hoping for a good result! Darryl has been super helpful throughout the whole process, and I feel that I have a very strong teammate which I will also be learning a lot from this year.
Daniel Au | Driver #55 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“It’ll be a big step up from the GT4 that I raced in last year, with lots of downforce which gives much higher cornering speeds. The test days with the team have been very useful, and I’m looking forward to getting the weekend underway with Melvin, who I have also been working very closely with to understand all aspects of the Mercedes-AMG GT3!”
Melvin Moh | Driver #55 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“I’m excited for my first full-season in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia, and there is no better way to start the season at my home race at the Sepang Circuit. Looking forward to working with my teammate Daniel Au, and I can’t wait to get into the car.”
Jeffrey Lee | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“I am really looking forward to this new challenge ahead as J-Fly Racing joins Craft-Bamboo Racing for the 2019 season, returning to the prestigious Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia as well as adding several special one-off events along the way as the season progresses. I’m also excited to be driving alongside Alessio; someone whom I’ve worked with in the past and we will certainly be pushing each other forward.”
Alessio Picariello | Driver #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
“Im really looking forward to getting started in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia, and to get back behind the wheel of our Mercedes-AMG GT3 after a successful first taste of it earlier in the year! Looks like the competition will be serious and that motivates me even more, I can’t wait!”
Frank Yu | Driver #77 Mercedes-AMG GT4
“I’m really excited with the new season. We’re going with a full AMG line-up with 3 GT3’s and 1 GT4. After taking a break last year, I’m really happy to be back together in the car with Jean-Marc! We’ll try fighting for the championship again this year!”
Jean-Marc Merlin | Driver #77 Mercedes-AMG GT4
“It’s a good feeling to come back with Craft-Bamboo Racing in the Mercedes-AMG GT4, and being partnered with Frank will give us the best chance at fighting for the title again this year. I have high expectations for not just the coming weekend, but for the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia season.”