Jackie Chan’s DC Racing X Jota Sport team have fought their way to the fourth and sixth row of this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in the final round of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship at Circuit de la Sarthe.
In Thursday’s final two qualifying sessions prior to the Super Finale of WEC Super Season, Stephane Richelmi clocked the fastest lap time in the Mighty38 that he shares with Ho-Pin Tung and Gabriel Aubry with 3:26.821 in the penultimate session, improving significantly from Wednesday.
Fortunecat37 driven by Ricky Taylor, David Heinemeier-Hansson and Jordan King registered its best lap time of 3:28.049 with Taylor behind the wheel in the opening minutes of the night session, before it became messy due to several incidents, including a red flag and consequently prevented both cars from further improvement because of the massive traffic in the closing stage.
That left Mighty38 in seventh place on the grid and Fortunecat37 in twelfth place in LMP2 class.
“Both cars and the drivers showed great speed and potential,” said David Cheng, co-founder of Jackie Chan DC Racing, which runs two China-flagged ORECA 07-Gibson cars.
“It was a bit unfortunate that we had so many red flags and full course yellows that ruined a few good runs for us. But we have the front running pace, and, although we know we have the car to challenge for pole, what we are focused on is the race as both cars will be challenging for the world championship title and that will be most important.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing will start the 87th running of the WEC race with a one-two in LMP1 after Kamui Kobayashi managed to put the No. 7 car on pole position. The Japanese driver completed a lap of the 13.626-km circuit in 03:15.497. He shares the TS050 Hybrid car with Mike Conway and José María López.
Championship favourites Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima will start second on the 61-car grid, after clocking their No. 8 car at 03:15.908. The No. 17 BR Engineering BR1-AER fielded by Russian team SMP Racing rounds off the top three.
Alonso stands to become the first driver since 1939 to hold a perfect win record at Le Mans across multiple starts.
The Italian driver won in his debut at Le Mans last year for Toyota alongside Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, completing the second part of the “triple crown of motorsport” he is currently pursuing.
Alonso was not about to lose focus, however, telling Crash.net: “I think that is something that is not in our hands. If it was a six-hour race, maybe it was easier in a way to finish in the top seven, because we have the potential to finish in the top seven.
“But in Le Mans, it’s possible that you don’t finish the race, and if you don’t finish the race, it’s bye-bye to the championship. It’s a little bit out of our hands.
“Le Mans chooses who wins, and also in a way who wins the championship this year. Hopefully we did enough to deserve it.”
Having won five of the previous seven WEC rounds, Jackie Chan DC Racing X JOTA Sport will now concentrate on preparing for the Saturday morning warm-up ahead of the 87th running of 24 Hours of Le Mans, which will be started by Princess Charlene of Monaco at 3 p.m. local time.
“Starting at the front of the midfield is a really good place to be for us,” said Sam Hignett, director of JOTA Sport, “So now we will have to prepare the car carefully and look forward to a good race.”