In the run-up to the 6 Hours of Shanghai, fifth round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) this coming weekend, we are publishing a series of articles on Chinese teams and drivers at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This third installment focuses on Jackie Chan DC Racing, who in just under a year made quite an impact on the history of endurance racing by becoming the first Chinese team to reach the overall podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2017.
First of all, let us provide some geopolitical and historical context. In 2015, KCMG's win in the LMP2 class caused the Chinese national anthem to play for the first time ever at the 24 Hours circuit, but that team is based in Hong Kong, a British colony retroceded to China in 1997. In 2017, the one-two secured by Jackie Chan DC Racing made it the first outfit based in continental China to win at the 24 Hours.
In 2017, late morning on Sunday, the troubles experienced by the Toyota and Porsche hybrid prototypes boosted the ORECA shared by Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung leading the race for more than two hours before giving in to the winning Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley. At the finish, the trio Jarvis, Laurent and Tung finished second overall and won the LMP2 class ahead of its teammates Alex Brundle, David Cheng and Tristan Gommendy.
The one-two amounted to second and third places overall, just one year after co-owner and global movie star Jackie Chan gave the start at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016. "Jackie Chan was very helpful for the promotion of the team and WEC in China," says co-owner David Cheng. "Jackie used his resources and influence to share the success of the team, the spirit of Le Mans and the information of the WEC races with his Hollywood friends and Chinese fans."
Jackie Chan DC Racing's success is a Sino-British story thanks to a technical partnership with Jota Sport. Winner in the LMP2 class under its own banner at the 2014 24 Hours, Jota Sport won three consecutive victories in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2016 with G-Drive Racing, before the 2017 Le Mans triumph with the Chinese team. "JThe universal recognition of the Jackie Chan brand is a great platform to build a race program on both from a commercial and fan perspective," adds Jota Sport's Sam Hignett, in charge of running Jackie Chan DC Racing's cars. "Thanks to the efforts of the Asian Le Mans Series as well as the FIA WEC races, endurance racing is becoming bigger and bigger each year in the wider Asian market. Being part of this growth is hugely satisfying."
Jackie Chan DC Racing's other objective is to promote young Asian drivers on the international stage. The mission is well on its way in 2018 with a win at the 6 Hours of Fuji for Jazeman Jaafar-Nabil Jeffri-Weiron Tan from Malaysia. Heading into the 6 Hours of Shanghai, fifth round of the World Endurance Championship Super Season this weekend, Jackie Chan DC Racing has three wins to its credit this year, the two others clinched at Spa-Francorchamps and Silverstone by Gabriel Aubry, Stéphane Richelmi and Ho-Pin Tung. Add to that six victories in the Asian Le Mans Series during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons.
In addition to KCMG and Jackie Chan DC Racing, the development of the Asian Le Mans Series has also compelled more teams from the Far East to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans...to be continued in the next installment in this series.
PHOTOS - At the top, Jackie Chan DC Racing's historic LMP2 one-two at the 2017 edition of Le Mans under the checkered flag. Gallery below, the Chinese team's two ORECA 07-Gibsons that finished fourth and sixth in the class at the 2018 24 Hours.