Sports Academy alumni, Daniel Lloyd, took another sensational race win during the nail-biting GT Asia Series season finale on the Chang International Circuit, Thailand, this weekend helping Craft-Bamboo-Racing partner Darryl O’Young claim the 2016 title (October 23-25).
Heading into the final weekend, the #99 VLT-backed duo faced tough competition for the title with O’Young having a narrow 4-point lead from the #8 Absolute Racing Bentley.
Disaster struck during the first of Saturday morning’s qualifying sessions after contact forced O’Young off the track and into the gravel. With the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 still stranded as the second session started, the weekend looked to be over before it had started with the car only returning to the Craft-Bamboo garage with only five minutes of the session remaining.
A super-quick turnaround by the crew saw Lloyd take to the circuit with only three minutes left to run, leaving the 23-year-old just one lap to set a best time for the final race of the season. Unbelievably, and against the odds, Lloyd delivered the perfect lap on his debut on the Buriram circuit and the Aston Martin Evolution Academy driver crossed the line as the clock struck zero, securing a second place start for the #99 Vantage.
Starting from last for Saturday’s hour-long race, O’Young made good progress during his opening stint before handing over to Lloyd just before the halfway mark. With a twelve second mandatory pit-stop in place following the win in Shanghai, Lloyd re-joined the race in 16th place and immediately began his charge through the pack. An incredible battle through the field followed, with Lloyd systematically picking off the competition to eventually bring the #99 Aston Martin home in fourth place overall – just behind the #8 Bentley – and with O’Young now tied on points heading into the final race of the season.
“Wow, what a race!” said Lloyd. “We always knew it was going to be tough starting from the back, but we had the pace and the car was faultless once again. To come back from last on the grid to take fourth was a great achievement and it put us straight back into the fight for the championship for the last race.
“Talk about taking it down to the wire!”
Starting in second for the hour-long season finale alongside the Bentley, a perfectly-time start from Lloyd saw the #99 Aston Martin snatch the race lead from the competition as the pair headed into the first corner. Making the most of the clean-air ahead, Lloyd focussed on increasing the gap to the chasing pack and controlled the race expertly before handing over to O’Young with a healthy four second lead. An on-point pit-stop by the Craft-Bamboo Racing squad saw the Aston re-emerge with the race lead intact and O’Young delivered a superb performance in his closing stint, crossing the line with an incredible lead of over eight seconds to claim the 2016 GT Asia Series Championship title.
“The whole weekend was awesome;” said an elated Lloyd. “I’m incredibly grateful to the Craft-Bamboo Racing team for the opportunity to come and race with them this season. I’ve had an absolute blast! It’s been great working with Darryl, he’s a true gent and thoroughly deserving Champion and I’m just happy that I was able to help him on his way to the title.
“It’s definitely been a rollercoaster of a weekend, but what a way to end the GT Asia Series season!” Lloyd continued. “We started the races as the underdogs but came out as Champions and I’m over the moon for everyone involved.”
“I have to say a huge thank you to all of my sponsors for their support this season. It’s been a tough season but every one of my sponsors has stuck with me and supported the move to Asia that has allowed me to progress with my career;” concluded Lloyd. “I couldn’t be more thankful!”
“We didn’t have the easiest start to the year but I’m delighted that we’ve been able to end season on such a high and to repay them with a Championship win.”