Chinese driver, 26-year-old David Cheng who raced the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2014 and 2015 has his own team, DC Racing. The outfit is aiming for the LM P2 crown with an Alpine A460 Nissan based on the ORECA 05 designed by Oreca Technology. Cheng and his prestigious new partner, actor Jackie Chan, told us more about their hopes for this season.
Cong Fu Cheng was the first Chinese driver to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2008. He came third in LM P2 with Saulnier Racing. DC Racing hopes to do even better! Like many racing drivers, David Cheng started out in go-karting and worked his way up in single-seater series in Asia before progressing to GT and prototypes.
When did you decide to found your own team? What triggered the idea?
I met Jackie Chan, my team’s cofounder last year in March. Our first meeting was about other projects that we’re going to do together, but as we talked, Jackie told me that one of his favourite actors was Steve McQueen and that he loved the movie Le Mans. He described how powerful it is and how it captures the spirit of racing. Jackie has done a bit of racing, not at this level, but he is a big fan of racing and not many people know that. He couldn’t personally be at Le Mans 24 Hours last year so he sent someone over to represent him. Right after the race I had a big text message from him and then a call saying “great job”. At the beginning of our race we lost a lot of laps and we fought back hard. [The team finished 9th in LM P2] He said, “Is it possible to create a team together for next year and do this race?” I said, “Hey, no problem.”
The team started out in LMP3 in the ACO-managed Asian Le Mans Series and had a perfect season, winning four races. Was it the best way to prepare for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship?
Doing Asian Le Mans Series, especially in LM P3 with a Ligier, was a very good way for me to analyse the team owner-driver relationship. How to balance it, knowing when to wear the racing driver helmet and when to put on the team owner hat is very important, for myself and for the entire team. It was a good exercise. Over the past couple of months I’ve found that, yes, it’s very possible and I really enjoy both sides of it. Thanks to the experience of the Asian Le Mans Series, we’re really ready for the full wick. It’s not just the Asian Le Mans Series, it’s the entire past three years. As a core team we’ve learned to work together with the engineers and the mechanics in the background. So I would say in a way, it’s not so much a new team it’s just that what we’ve been doing together already has been re branded.
Was it satisfying to see your name on the car as team owner?
Of course, it’s nice to have my name on the car, but to be honest, the most important thing this year is that Jackie Chan has stepped forward from behind the scenes to really support us. He has promised me, all of us, that he will come to the 24 Hours of Le Mans to support us and the race itself this year.
What is your main objective with the Alpine A460? Victory?
In the past at Le Mans, we’ve never had the complete package to really challenge for the win. I’ve done Daytona in the past and Le Mans is something completely different. At Daytona you can catch up under yellows. At Le Mans it’s not the same. Looking at the grid this year, I think if you’re outside of that top five, many top seven this year, if you’re not in that leading pack you’re not going to have a chance. This year the goal was to put together THE package. It’s still a 24-hour race and anything can happen, but now we have what it takes to win not only the race but the entire world championship.
Ho-Pin Tung is confirmed as one of Cheng’s co-drivers but the third seat remains nameless for the moment.
Geoffroy Barre — Translated from French by Emma Paulay
PARIS, FRANCE, PAVILLON GABRIEL, FRIDAY 5 FEBRUARY 2016, ACO PRESS CONFERENCE. David Cheng (right) chatting to team manager Rémy Brouard (left) and David Richards, head of Aston Martin Racing.