China is emerging as a powerful player on the endurance scene, with two overall podium spots for Jackie Chan DC Racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and CEFC Manor TRS Racing’s arrival in the LMP1 class for the 2018/2019 Super Season.
Not only did Jackie Chan DC Racing take a stunning 1-2 finish in the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of the Le Mans: the team also led the race for a couple of hours on Sunday morning, with the #38 Oreca manned by Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho Pin Tung. The car was finally overtaken by the #2 Porsche 919, driven flat out by Timo Bernhard in the final stages of the race. Nonetheless, Jackie Chan DC Racing was the first ever LMP2 team to lead the race and make it on to the overall podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In China, there was huge enthusiasm over the team’s achievements, in part because the team is co-owned by world-famous actor Jackie Chan, known for films such as the ‘Rush Hour’ trilogy. “With three seasons in the Asian Le Mans Series and two in the WEC, one of the team's targets was to promote endurance racing in China. The WEC viewers on internet increased quickly,” says the other team owner (and driver), David Cheng. “On September 7, online viewers of the live broadcast of the Mexico race almost equalled those watching the US Open's quarter finals.”
Although the 2017 LMP2 title finally went to Vaillante Rebellion, Jackie Chan DC Racing’s double podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans raised the profile of Chinese teams, and the country is likely to get another boost in 2018 with the arrival of CEFC Manor TRS Racing in the LMP1 class.
Manor made its endurance debut in 2016 and led the LMP2 class for the first few hours at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year. In 2017, the British team, which now has Chinese backing and has been renamed CEFC Manor TRS Racing, made it on to the podium at the 6 Hours of Mexico.
More significantly though, in 2018 CEFC Manor TRS Racing will be the first ever Chinese team in the LMP1 class, where it will field a Ginetta chassis. It is an ambitious programme but comes as no surprise from Manor, a team that started out in the single-seater feeder series before moving into Formula One. Already last year, the team management was clearly hinting at their interest in the LMP1 class.
Details on the Jackie Chan DC Racing team’s 2018 programme have not yet been revealed. In the meantime, CEFC Manor TRS Racing will be presenting its car at the Birmingham Motor Show (UK) on 11 January.
Photo: At the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the 2017 World Endurance Championship, one of the two Orecas fielded by CEFC Manor TRS Racing was stamped with the most sought-after numbers on the grid: the number 24!