Sports Academy alumni Daniel Lloyd made it two out of two in China, claiming both race wins in the GT Asia series penultimate double header weekend on the Shanghai International Circuit (September 25-27).
Lloyd and his Craft Bamboo Racing partner Darryl O’Young dominated the weekend’s proceedings in the #99 VLT-backed Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 claiming victory in both one-hour sprint races and the pair leave China with O’Young topping the championship standings as a result.
Having never raced on the circuit before, Lloyd arrived in Shanghai somewhat on the back-foot. With all of the competitors cars arrival at the track delayed, the 23-year-old immediately made his mark on the field setting the fastest lap times during Friday’s free practise runs. Lloyd carried this pace into the afternoon qualifying session with the Yorkshireman going on to claim pole for Sunday’s one-hour race.
Starting from eighth on the grid for Saturday’s hour long contest, O’Young battled hard in the mid-pack during the opening stint before handing over to Lloyd in twelfth position. Following a faultless pit-stop by the Craft Bamboo Racing crew, Lloyd re-joined in sixth place overall.
A late safety car appearance helped the #99 Aston move onto the back of lead pack and with less than six minutes of the race remaining, Lloyd set his sights on the race leaders. Expertly chasing down the front-runners, before bravely running three wide into the first corner, Lloyd dramatically snatched P1 with one lap to go. In an incredibly close finish, the young Yorkshire-man claimed his maiden win in the #99 Vantage to the delight of his team-mate O’Young and the Craft Bamboo Racing squad.
“That was an incredible race;” said Lloyd. “Darryl did a great job in his opening stint and then thankfully the safety car played into our hands. A lot of people made mistakes on the first and second lap after the restart on cold tyres. I managed to keep it clean and tidy and capitalize on their mistakes it all happened so quickly at the end.
“The car was awesome; I went from fifth to first in the final five minutes so I’m over the moon. To get a race win on only my second race with the team and on a circuit that I’ve never been to before is fantastic.”
A commanding drive from Lloyd in race two on Sunday saw the #99 Vantage claim its second outright race win of the weekend. A flawless start from Lloyd gave the VLT-Aston a 2.9 second lead by the end of the first lap and Lloyd pitted at the half-way point with an incredible 13 second lead. With a 10 second pit-stop penalty in place for the squad’s race one win, another superb pit-stop from the Craft Bamboo Racing crew saw O’Young re-take the race lead and the Aston Martin GT3 took its second lights to flag victory on the Shanghai track.
“Another great race today;” added Lloyd. “Starting from pole I knew it was going to be tough with the mandatory 10 second pit-stop penalty from yesterday. It was vital that we had to get a big gap before the pit-stop window opened, so we opted for new tyres.
“The car was on point all weekend and that helped me to get a great first lap in and build up a comfortable gap which allowed me to relax a little. From then on it was about being consistent and looking after the tyres.”
The Yorkshire patron continued; “I handed over to Darryl with a gap of about 12 seconds which was enough to keep us out in front of the Bentley and the Ferrari. Darryl did a good job and was really quick with his out lap and for the rest of the race, and the Ferrari and Bentley were too busy battling among themselves to really give us any trouble.
“An amazing weekend all in all. The Craft Bamboo Racing crew were brilliant once again, and I’m absolutely delighted for Darryl to come away leading the championship with one event left to go. I can’t wait for the season finale in Thailand now, it should be very interesting!”
Lloyd will be back behind the wheel of the #99 VLT-backed Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 for the 2015 GT Asia Series season finale on the Buriram International Circuit, Thailand on October 24-25.