Ho-Pin Tung is a busy man. Not only does he divide his time between development work with Jaguar’s Formula E programme, but also has to apportion driving and management duties with Jackie Chan DC Racing.
The team made history at Fuji in becoming the first all-Malaysian LMP2 class winners for a WEC race, heading a 1-2 for the team in the Gibson-powered Oreca 07’s. Ho-Pin cites JCDC Racing’s development in youth in the Asian region as the main factors for the unique success the team is now enjoying.
“It’s been extremely close between the two sister cars, which is great news because it was the same at Silverstone. It shows that we’re very competitive and have two great line-ups”, explains Ho-Pin.
“It’s been fantastic for the whole team”. It adds to the philosophy we’ve always had as a team to use the Asian Le Mans programme. We’ve used that as a building platform to nourish young, upcoming drivers”, says Ho-Pin.
The big success story out of Jackie Chan DC racing was not just their LMP2 (and almost outright) Le Mans victory, but its hand in catapulting young French talent Thomas Laurent into the big league with an LMP1 drive with Rebellion Racing.
Ho-Pin believes that the Anglo-Chinese squad’s resources and atmosphere is key to developing this kind of talent so they don’t become yet another motor sport statistic.
“If they can get used to the team, it puts them in a good position for WEC. We proved that to be very successful last year with Thomas (Laurent) and this year with Weiron (Tan) and we’ve been up there from the word go with all six drivers from out Asian Le Mans programme. It’s been a very successful formula”.
The Asian Le Mans Series endured a few false starts in its infancy due to team uncertainty, but Ho-Pin believes the category has grown steadily with strong impetus from the ACO.
“The ACO has done a lot of work to build traction”, he affirms. Cyril (Taesch Wahlen) has been doing a great job promoting the championship by adding LMP3 to mix three years ago. We goes to great venues in Asia with proper tracks, so it’s the perfect championship in the ACO ladder”.
“In the past you saw teams opting for the European Le Mans Series, but nowadays a lot of ELMS teams enter ALMS, so the grids not only been expanding, but expanding with some very strong teams like United Autosports, so it’s been good”.
With LMP3 looking likely to be given the green light in Australia, Jackie Chan DC Racing are being cautious about spreading themselves over another series, but Ho-Pin admits they are looking at every option.
“It’s not something we’re looking at closely at the moment, but it’s definitely on our radar”, says Ho-Pin.
“We’ll see how that develops because as a team we have quite a full programme running in WEC and ALMS – especially as the two championships overlap. We have to play it smart with the crew and all our staffing. Whilst the WEC team has the majority of staff from technical partner JOTA Sport, in Asia it’s more of a mix and we’re trying to groom engineers and mechanics as well as drivers”.
Last year there was talk about JCDC setting up an engineering academy in China with the support of JOTA Sport, but, Ho-Pin says the reality of such an initiative is still a way off.
“There’s been a lot of requests from China”, Ho-Pin explains. “Again it’s something that’s fefinitely on our radar, but there’s nothing fixed for the moment”.
“It’s something that’s very much on David Cheng’s side, who stepped down from full-time racing this year. David’s been fully focussed on the business side of the team. If you look at how our team has developed since our win at Le Mans last year, we’re now looking for a third car in ALMS. So we’ve got a big presence in Asia”.
The Le Mans win
“The win gave us a lot of traction in China and an incredible amount of media attention on motor sport”, says Ho-Pin.
“Don’t forget motor sport is still relatively small in China, but it’s getting more corporate attention. China has many sporting heroes and the Le Mans put the team on the world stage. It’s unique and a first for everyone”.
“It also helps to have a very well known team owner (in Jackie Chan). Secondly, the results speak for themselves and we’ve never forgotten our roots”.
Images JCDC racing and Richard Washbrooke Photography
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