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Craft-Bamboo ‘win ugly’ in Georgian TCR International races

Craft-Bamboo Racing ‘won ugly’ in the second TCR International Series race in Georgia, according to team CEO Richard Coleman, with Pepe Oriola taking victory.

Coleman’s team took a win in race two with Oriola, and initially a second with Hugo Valente before a penalty for passing under yellow flags was handed out to the Frenchman.

Despite the win, the team remained puzzled by the relative lack of speed in the dry throughout the weekend, with the team managing a best of just eighth in qualifying.

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“We struggled all weekend, right from the test, although by the end we got a reasonable car,” said Coleman to TouringCars.Net. “All three cars were quite quick in race two but I can’t even tell you why they were quick.

“We made some changes, but I still don’t really see any logic with the changes we made and the performance we found and the performance that we found, even with the conditions changing. We’ve been on the back foot all weekend, really.”

Coleman put some of the blame on the Balance of Performance [BoP] results, but admitted that it couldn’t be the only issue as the SEAT of Ferenc Ficza was much more competitive throughout the weekend.

“Some of the BoP decisions I’m not that happy with, but at the end of the day Ficza was ahead of us all weekend and he really shouldn’t be, so there’s no excuses from that.

“BoP aside, I think we’ll be very strong in Bahrain. Last year we were on pole and won one of the races. In that regard I’ve got no worries for Bahrain; it’s a very different circuit to here and it’s much more like what we’re used to.

“Sometimes you have to win ugly and I think that’s what we did here.”

Regarding Valente, who recently replaced Sergey Afanasyev in the team, Coleman says bringing him in was part of a plan to refresh the driver line-up for 2017.

Whilst Valente originally finished second on the road in race two, behind Oriola, a subsequent post-race penalty for passing under yellow flags dropped him to ninth and denied him a maiden podium on his first weekend with the team.

“We wanted some fresh blood in the team for this year,” added Coleman. “James [Nash] did an exceptional job last year with the results he got and Pepe’s raw speed brought a huge amount to the team.

“So in terms of bringing fresh blood in, we had a long conversation with Lukoil. Sergey was thinking of doing some different things; he’d been with Lukoil for a long time and we found a way forward.

“I’ve followed Hugo closely, particularly in the last couple of years. Hugo is a driver who’s had some missed opportunities and he’s somebody that I wanted to bring into the team. It’s no secret that I think he would have been here had he not had his offer from LADA in World Touring Cars last year, so I put out a call to him.

“Hugo and I speak very frankly with each other and we managed to find a way forward where he felt comfortable coming into this environment and we felt very comfortable knowing what he could do if we can iron out some of the creases.”

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