JACKIE CHAN DC RACING X JOTA SPORT LEADING FIA WEC CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER SEASON OPENER
8th May 2018
Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport took second and fourth place of LMP2 category at the opening round of 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season with significant teamwork in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
The 2017-Le-Mans-winning car #Mighty38 shared by Ho-Pin Tung, Stephane Richelmi and Gabriel Aubry, crossed the line second after an impressive charge in the closing stage but claimed the maximum points – 25, with the winning #26 G-drive not a full-season entrant.
The #Fortunecat37 car, which features the first-ever full Malaysian driver line-up in WEC history with Jazemen Jaafar, Nabil Jeffri and Weiron Tan, completed a trouble-free race to finish fourth place but stand on third in championship. More importantly, the new crew gather valuable experience and knowledge for endurance racing.
The day before, the Anglo-Chinese team qualified third for #Mighty38 and fourth for #Fortunecat37 in a tight qualifying interrupted by two red flags.
The race began in the warmest condition over the week. Right from the start, the two ORECA 07s powered Gibson were challenging for podium. The core driver of the Chinese team Tung made a strong start in #Mighty38, moving to second place as the safety car deployed at the end of the first lap.
Richelmi took over the car from his teammate under the second safety car period, racing in the championship for the first time since 2016. Compromised by a Full Course Yellow session, the former Le Mans and WEC LMP2-class winner navigated the car consistently before handing over to Aubry, who made his debut in WEC.
At the halfway point, the 20-year-old Frenchman kept #Mighty38 in third followed by the sister car #Fortunecat37, with Jeffri at the wheel.
From the opening laps, Jaafar fought through the incident-filled field and continued his progress on the track. Tan replaced his countryman after the major accident of Ford #67 at Eau Rouge and then accomplished two stints.
After both cars made their sixth pit stops, #Fortunecat37 re-joined the track and emerged ahead of #Mighty38, leading to a fair competition for podium between the two China-flagged cars.
As the last hour approached, the better tyre condition allowed the reigning Le Mans winning car to overtake its sister car and eventually jumped in front of the rival in #36 Alpine thanks to another safety car that closed the gap after the shunt for #17 SMP
Tung stayed in #Mighty38 and took second at the chequered flag of the 6-hour race, while Jaafar recovered from the time he lost in his last pit stop under a late safety car period, taking the flag in fourth for the Malaysian crew backed by Sepang International Circuit.
With the encouraging result at Spa, Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport heads back to its operation base in UK to accelerate preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours on 16-17 June, where the team expects a closer fight in LMP2 class. Before that, the team will participate in the official Le Mans test day on 3 June.
David Cheng, co-founder of Jackie Chan DC Racing
We had a decent race and achieved quite good results. It was really difficult with a lot of strategy stuff when safety car came out. The first one really hurt the #38, while the next one hurt #37 but helped the #38. It was bad timing when these racing incidents happened on track at the wrong time for you.
But the boys really did very good job and the pace of both our cars was really good. #38 walked away with second place and 25 points, leading in the championship. #37 came back and finished in fourth. Without the interruption by safety cars, we could have a double-podium finish, and even at some point, both cars had the potential to win the race. Now we fully focus on Le Mans 24 Hours.
Sam Hignett, director of JOTA Sport
A good start to the year. We finished second and forth in the race but first and third in the championship because the winning car was the guest car for this race. The result was better than we started last year.
Now what we’ve got to do is to hold the championship lead for 14 months until the end of the Super Season. Good job by all the drivers. It’s a tough race for the Malaysian crew, because they ended up at the pit at wrong time with the safety car and got held at the end of the pit lane. Without that, we would have been second and third in the LMP2 class. Now it’s time for Le Mans.
Ho-Pin Tung, driver of #Mighty38, Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport
A second place is a great start of the season, a hard fought second place. We had the potential to win but a minor issue with one of the doors forced us to box early. Right after we exit from that stop, the Full Course Yellow came out, so we lost a lot of time there as all our competitor took advantage of that. We gained however from the last safety car, which put us back to the contention for second place and managed to overtake Alpine for it. Now we need to analyse the race to see where we can gain a bit more. Also, we have a great line-up in #37, they were a bit unfortunate today, it should have been both cars on the podium. A special mention to everyone at Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport, with very limited preparation time everyone has done an outstanding job and it will only get better from here. And that’s promising, because the next one is the big one – Le Mans.
Stephane Richelmi, driver of #Mighty38, Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport
Today we are the not the strongest, but we did a great job finishing second. The team provided us a very efficient car along the two stints. It’s a good result. With what we achieved today, I am very pleased to share with my teammates because we only drove in the Prologue, without much time to get prepared. But Everyone made very good job. We know we could improve in the next race because even Gabi still lacks experience compared to all the other drivers out there. Also, I am still discovering the car myself. All these is a sign that we are going to be better next time.
Gabriel Aubry, driver of #Mighty38, Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport
I am really happy to begin the championship with second place on track and first place with points. It was a bit tough for me and I didn’t feel nice because I wasn’t battling with anyone. But I really trusted in the team and my engineer set the pace they wanted me to do. In the end, everything went quite accordingly to plan. We were a little bit unlucky with the Fall Course Yellow with Stephan. We could have played for the win without that. Anyway, it’s 25 points. We take the points. We only look at Le Mans and championship overall. Considering it’s my second in this car and my first ever double stint on the track, I am really happy with no mistakes over the weekend.
Jazemen Jaafar, driver of #Fortunecat37, Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport
In our debut in WEC at spa, we collected strong points. We finished fourth in the race but third in championship currently. At the start, I was a bit struggling with the front tyres overheating. But I managed to be consistent and handed over to my teammates. Solid job. Then I took the last stint, but we were hampered by the safety car. We dropped back but we fought back and finished fourth position. Thanks to Jackie Chan, David Cheng, Sepang Circuit for enormous support.
Nabil Jeffri, driver of #Fortunecat37, Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport
I think it was quite good race before the safety car, when we were first and second. It was very unlucky. For sure, finishing second or fourth is part of racing. Sometimes it’s your day, sometimes it’s other’s day. Not our day today. But as a team, we are happy with our progress. I hope it would be better in Le Mans.
Weiron Tan, driver of #Fortunecat37, Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport
A bitter-sweet feeling. I am very happy for #38 car finishing second this weekend. I am very grateful to great job by the team. Both Jazeman and Nabil did wonderful job and team performed so well all weekend. We thought we had the pace and potential to be on the podium if it wasn’t for the last safety car that cost us. But a lot of positives were taken with us for heading to Le Mans. Hope we can carry our momentum and do well there as well. Thanks to Sepang International Circuit for the full support and thanks to Jackie Chan DC Racing x JOTA Sport for the support over the weekend.