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Craft-Bamboo ‘delighted’ with double podiums

Craft-Bamboo Racing CEO Richard Coleman says he is ‘delighted’ with his team’s performance in the inaugural TCR International Series meeting in Malaysia, with drivers Pepe Oriola, Jordi Gené and Sergey Afanasyev all standing on the podium in Sepang.

Having taken a double podium in race one, with Oriola heading Afanasyev in second and third respectively, the British team went one better in race two, where Spaniard Gené won ahead of compatriot Oriola.

Unfortunately for Russian Afanasyev, he was collected by Target Competition’s Michel Nykjær on lap one of the second race and had to retire with accident damage on his SEAT León.

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The results mean that Craft-Bamboo Lukoil lead the teams’ championship on 76 points, with Oriola and Gené sitting second and third in the drivers’ championship, ahead of Afanasyev in seventh.

“Absolutely delighted to reward all the boys for their hard work, we are very happy to be leading the team’s championship,” said Coleman of his team’s first meeting. “We are still a bit behind and we have a lot to learn about the car as everything is very new to us. It’s a great start to have a win, and to have four podiums over the weekend is a fantastic result for the whole team.”

Oriola admitted to being pleased to have scored two podium finishes having qualified in eighth on Saturday. “I am of course happy, especially after my disappointing qualifying where I placed eighth,” said the 20-year-old.”To be twice on the podium after the first weekend is amazing and I want to say thank you to the whole team, especially to my family and everyone supporting me. The guys did a really good job with the car given the really tight time frame.”

Experienced racer Gené, who was involved in the test and development of the SEAT León Cup racer, won race two from lights-to-flag, with less than a second advantage, and admits that having a fast team-mate represents challenge.

“I feel really happy, I knew the car and I knew that the SEAT had a very good base,” said Gené. “To have the opportunity to join such a competitive team like Craft-Bamboo Lukoil is fantastic. My teammates are quick and that is a challenge which I am enjoying.

“To start at the front is great and I can’t ask for anything more, maybe a better qualifying next time. It was a very hard race because I had a lot of temperature problems with the car, so being out in front was just what I needed.I was pushing the whole race.”

Russian Afanasyev was left to reflect on a missed opportunity in race two, but remained positive overall on his first weekend in touring car racing.

“My race was short but the team did a great job over the weekend and it’s just the beginning, so we need to learn more, drive more, fight more,” said the former GT racer. “I am disappointed that the car was damaged and that the guys will have to spend time fixing it. I will be looking for a good result next race in Shanghai.”

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