The Jackie Chan DC Racing team had a set plan for the 87th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans — stay out of trouble, run hard and win the LMP2 class.
Unfortunately, “the Le Mans gods had other plans,” said David Cheng, co-founder of the Chinese-based World Endurance Championship team.
Cheng couldn’t deny he still had “a bitter-sweet feelings” after DC Racing and JOTA Sport finished second to the Signatech Alpine car in the LMP2 class and in the championship points race after last weekend’s race.
Mighty38, with drivers Stephane Richelmi, Ho-Pin Tung and Gabriel Aubry, would finish a strong second, while sister car FortuneCat37 with Ricky Taylor, David Heinemeier-Hansson and Jordan King aboard, would suffer a DNF after a gearbox issue reared itself at the 14 hour mark.
“Being on the Le Mans podium, you can’t not smile and not be happy about a result like this, as this is one of the pinnacle races of the world and to be on the podium means a lot,” Cheng said. “At the same time, with the championship being concluded here and being runner-up again, it’s a tough feeling.
“But it was a fair fight, our opponents did a really good job and had a perfect race. Hats off to them. Our drivers drove brilliantly. We really made a fighting effort. Unfortunately, the Le Mans gods had other plans.”
The team remains undaunted and the new WEC season beckons — the four hours of Silverstone is set for Sept. 1.
“Next year starts very soon, and all the boys are hard at work,” Cheng said. “We’re going to swallow our sorrows (and) tomorrow, we will be right back to work. This is the spirit of our team.”
Driver Ho-Pin Tung had mixed feelings as well, but was proud of the team’s overall effort. The Chinese-Dutch driver was also on the same team that won the LMP2 class and finished second overall at Le Mans in 2017.
“As a team, we did everything we could,” he said. “We did nothing wrong, with zero mistakes. We were just a little bit unlucky with one puncture, which cost more than one lap.
“This is the Le Mans 24 hours, a beautiful and amazing race. But you also need luck to be on your side. I think everyone at DC Racing and JOTA Sport should be extremely proud … three years ago, this team didn’t exist, and now we’ve already had one win and two second places. What a journey and we will be back for more.”
Co-driver Gabriel Aubry would sum up the team’s remorse — and the desire to once again tackle the greatest automotive challenge in the world.
“If you told me two days ago that I would be P2 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, of course I would be happy,” he said. “But losing the championship like this, especially when you have the potential to win it, it’s pretty hard to smile. I think that maybe in two weeks, I would be smiling and happy about what we did.
“Right now, it’s a bit hard to swallow. I definitely look forward to coming back to win Le Mans, as it’s my dream.”
The Toyota TS050 hybrid car piloted by veteran F1 driver Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima took the checkered flag in the LMP1 class.