Craft-Bamboo Racing began its new partnership with Mercedes-AMG by delivering a solid performance at the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour. As a one-off collaboration, Craft-Bamboo Racing and Black Falcon joined forces to tackle this gruelling endurance race. Named Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon, the two teams combined its efforts by integrating the team managers, engineers and mechanics to work in partnership, synergizing Black Falcons experience with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Craft-Bamboo Racing’s long standing experience at the Bathurst 12 Hour.
Mercedes-AMG factory drivers Gary Paffett, Maro Engel and Luca Stolz shared the driving duties and put in a stellar performance throughout the weekend. The #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 displayed race-winning pace all weekend long including qualifying the car second overall, leading several hours of the 12 hour race, and a monumental fight back through the field after almost falling a lap down from a punctured tyre.
Despite an unfortunate technical problem that ultimately ended the team’s challenge just a few hours from the finish, the race weekend provided a unique opportunity for the Craft-Bamboo Racing engineers and mechanics to learn the nuances and traits of the Mercedes-AMG package, with the aim of taking the race-winning potential into the 2019 motorsport season.
P2 – Maro Engel [#77 Mercedes-AMG GT3] – 2:03.0419
2019 Bathurst 12 Hour
Right from the start of Free Practice, the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 appeared to be a main contender at the sharp end of the field, with Paffett, Engel and Stolz comfortably on the pace. The team’s solid preparation of the car meant that Maro Engel qualified in 2nd place, giving Mercedes-AMG a front row lock out, and Team Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon a fantastic opportunity for the Bathurst 12 Hour.
Starting in cold and dark conditions, Luca Stolz remained behind the leading Mercedes-AMG GT3 early on, keeping the pressure on the leading #999 car whilst maintaining consistent pace. The leading pair pulled out a significant gap to the other cars right from the start and on lap 31, the first round of pit-stops commenced.
The #999 pitted first whilst Stolz in the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 stayed on track to run in clean air. The young German came in a lap after, and incredible work from the pit-crew as well as Stolz’s fast in-lap meant that when he emerged from the pits, the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was in the lead of the race.
In the ensuing laps following the pit-stop, Stolz was put under pressure from the 2nd placed #999 Mercedes but on lap 39, a safety car period gave him a bit of breathing room. After the race resumed, Stolz continued to demonstrate his pace and skill, defending the lead from the pursuing cars.
However on lap 65, a puncture forced the team to pit early and the team took the opportunity to refuel the car as well as completing the first driver change, putting 2018 DTM champion Gary Paffett in the hot seat. He emerged in 15thposition and got to work quickly, making his way quickly through the field.
Paffett worked to close up the gaps and 40 laps and one pit-stop later, the #77 car was back up into the top-10 places. The team knew that being on the lead lap would be essential to winning the race and were comfortable running in the top-10.
Then it was Maro Engel’s turn to jump into the car, with his eyes set soley on getting the car back to the front. The race continued to run for a long green-flag period, and both Craft-Bamboo Racing and Black Falcon crews displayed excellent teamwork to perform textbook pit-stops. Engel’s stellar job managing the tyre as well as battling through traffic meant that the team were back in the top 5, even getting back into the lead due to pit-stop cycles. Despite the earlier puncture, Engel, Paffett and Stolz’s impeccable driving meant that the team were back on target to mount a challenge towards the final few hours of the race.
However on lap 190, just under four and a half hours to go, Paffett was pushed off the circuit and through the grass. The grass picked up from running off the circuit blocked the cooling duct of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 resulting in an overheated engine. This forced the team to retire the car, bringing a close to Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon’s 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour challenge.
Despite the troubled finish, the strong pace from the car as well as the incredible teamwork shown from the crew meant that Craft-Bamboo Racing had plenty of positives to take away and look forward to in the upcoming season. The Bathurst 12 Hour weekend marked a new chapter in Craft-Bamboo Racing’s history, and the cooperative entry with long-time Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon gave the engineers and mechanics of Craft-Bamboo Racing valuable experience going into the future.
Craft-Bamboo Racing would like to thank our title sponsors Biante Model Cars and AutoArt, Mercedes-AMG, Black Falcon and our team partners Gravity, POAD and Orangebus, as our Bathurst 12 Hour challenge would not be possible without their contribution and support.
Sean Paul Breslin – Team Principal GT of Black Falcon
Having come all the way to Australia and had a really strong week, being one of the fastest cars on the field in all the sessions and then making a great race. Had a really good strategy and staying with the lead pack, unfortunately we had to park the car in the pit after the technical issue from the earlier incident. That was unfortunately is the end of the great Bathurst experience for us in 2019.
Darryl O’Young – Director of Craft-Bamboo Racing
Overall it was a very positive weekend, we could see that the pace of the car was really strong throughout the entire weekend. In the race as it got hotter, the pace struggled a bit but we were still there in the running. It was not a good way to finish with the contact followed by the technical issue ending our chances, but we need to look at the positives and really focus on that and take them into our upcoming season. Special thanks to Biante and AutoArt for their support, and thanks to Mercedes-AMG, Sean Paul and Black Falcon for a great cooperative effort.
Gary Paffett – Driver | #77 Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon
Overall a mega weekend to come here and be part of the Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bambo Black Falcon. To have Maro and Luca as teammates was great, we all got on really well and as a team we did a great job. The car was fast and obviously qualified on the front row and the pace was good in the race as well. We were in a great position in the race and for myself it was my first time here at Bathurst and I really enjoyed it. Obviously it ultimately ended in disappointment, firstly with the contact with another car and then the engine failure which stopped our race. Disappointed with the result but the performance and the teamwork was great and I really enjoyed the whole weekend.
Luca Stolz – Driver | #77 Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon
I think we had a pretty good weekend. Craft-Bamboo and Black Falcon worked really well and the team did a good job. We were on the pace and the car was running great and Maro qualified well on Saturday. I took the start and the guys did an awesome job in the pits which gave us the lead of the race. Was actually a really good race for us despite the heat. We were still in with a chance and this race was all about the fuel strategy, and we were still very much in the game being on the lead lap until the closing stages. I feel sorry for the team as they did an awesome job all weekend with no mistakes. I really would like to come back and work with them in the future!
Maro Engel – Driver | #77 Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon
We were not hoping to end this race and see the car in the garage with over 4 hours to go, but I guess that’s racing. It’s unfortunate that Gary was pushed off by the second last corner and was sent through the grass and gravel, and the dirt filled up the radiators and there was nothing else we could do to prevent the temperatures from rising too quickly. So we had to stop the car. It’s a shame but still a massive thank you to Craft-Bamboo Racing and Black Falcon for an awesome job. To my teammates Gary and Luca they were stellar and it was a pleasure racing with them. We’ll have to come back next year. This is a tough place and a tough race and so far it hasn’t really smiled on us but we’ll be back to try again.