Macau Grand Prix: Hong Kong’s Darryl O’Young wins GT Cup despite damaged car barely making it on to the grid – ‘I’m lost for words’
- Craft Bamboo Racing star overtakes defending champion Ye Hongli to win a day after crashing – ‘literally we got the car together 10 seconds before’
- O’Young thanks team for reviving ‘written-off’ Mercedes, though Ye and third-placed Luo claim dangerous play
The 41-year-old had just seconds to spare to make it on to the grid after his #95 Mercedes-AMG GT3 EVO suffered serious damage from the previous round the day before.
O’Young immediately thanked his Craft Bamboo Racing team’s mechanics, who reportedly spent the night repairing the vehicle to ensure he would feature in the final round.
With his only warm-up with the patched up car ahead of the 12-lap race being the formations laps, few expected O’Young (best lap time 2:22.193) to out-fox weekend leader and defending champion Leo Ye Hongli (2:22.056), of China.
O’Young showed his experience – he won the first-ever Macau GT Cup in 2008, narrowly missing out on last year’s podium – to overtake Ye almost immediately before dictating the pack from the front. With his car showing increasing signs of fatigue, a timely non-related safety car intervention from laps eight to 11 ensured he would see out the final lap in pole position.
“I’m lost for words, to be honest,” said O’Young, who rushed to embrace his crew post-race. “What an incredible day. From the accident yesterday, I honestly thought the car couldn’t be fixed but the team didn’t want to give up. I have actually never had a race where I had tears at the end, and I had some tears on this one on the in-lap.”
“We made it on to the grid with 10 seconds to go. Once they open the pit gate and I don’t make it out, I’m not on the grid. Literally we got the car together 10 seconds before. The guys worked together through the night and didn’t stop for a second. Really this victory is for them.
“It’s unbelievable. When you looked at the car [on Saturday], you thought ‘it’s written off’, and they did everything possible. Big thanks to the team because they didn’t stop.
“For the race, the car was quite damaged – the chassis is bent – and I’m sure the other guys could see from behind that I was struggling a lot. I managed to get a perfect start, timed it right at the light and was able to get side-by-side with Leo.
“The strategy from that point changed as I could feel that the car was not handling perfectly. I tried to control the race in the hills, didn’t push too hard in the hills, to save my tyres at the bottom where they could attack me. I didn’t have any other chance, and maybe the safety car saved me a bit today. It helped me get a break for my tyres and I was able to get a good jump on the restart for the last lap dash to seal it.”
The dream win was not without drama, however. Second-placed Ye and third-placed Luo Kailuo (2:22.493), both of Toro Racing, complained of oil spilling from O’Young’s car throughout. Ye, the clear weekend favourite, also accused O’Young of accelerating on the starting lights, adding that he and the team would “have a look into” what their next actions would be.
“Congrats to Darryl, I think he’s done a decent job. The start, I’m not sure. I saw Darryl accelerated during the red light, but we’ll have a look into that,” Ye said.
“The thing is, the whole race his oil just keeps spraying on my screen, and I couldn’t see anything towards the end of the race – also my tyres were full of oil. It’s really dangerous, I’m surprised they didn’t call him in.
“Even my teammate behind was catching oil. We’ve reported it to the team but no feedback, we’ll look into that as well. Still, I enjoyed the fight with Darryl, he defended really hard. It’s very difficult to overtake here, there’s no space at all.”
Luo added: “I think I could have won the race. I felt good today, but at the start I didn’t do a good job. I thought Darryl’s car was damaged and the oil is on my screen so it was a little bit dangerous on the tyres, and I could not see the track through my screen. When I was breaking the car was sliding so it was a little bit hard to drive on the track. But I still enjoyed the race and saw that I could follow the true, experienced driver.”
Fellow Hong Kong racer Marchy Lee King-yin, of Uno Racing Team, finished at fourth, an improvement of one place from the previous round.