Plans for Jackie Chan DC Racing’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut are quickly falling into place, with the Jota Sport-run organization finalizing details for its two-car effort in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
It would mark the first Chinese-flagged team to compete in the famed Florida endurance classic.
“I think we just have to work out the fine details of the logistics. But the idea is definitely there. Right now the plan is two cars,” team co-owner David Cheng told Sportscar365.
The Anglo-Chinese squad is coming off a breakout year in the FIA World Endurance Championship, highlighted by a 1-2 class finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while in the LMP2 title fight with one round to go.
Cheng said the team’s two Oreca 07 Gibsons would likely need to fly direct from next weekend’s season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain to Florida for pre-season testing.
It’s not yet determined if the team will be taking part in the December Daytona test.
“The cars do need to go from Bahrain over quite quickly,” Cheng said. “We have a good idea of how we’re going to set up in the U.S. and where we’re going to base.
“I think it will be a very strong program. Sam [Hignett, Jota director] and I are going through the list every day, on things that need to be ordered.
“There’s a lot of changes to the car, like [wiring] looms, and we need to get a handle on the whole package for Daytona.
“We need to be testing and get a good understanding of the package.
“It’s quite easy to underestimate Daytona. I’ve done the race many times as a driver. You can’t rule anything out there. The strategy is so complex there.”
Cheng said they have a “good idea” on drivers, although admitted they’ve yet to finalize the lineup for the second entry.
“We’re still talking to people,” he said. “The nice part about the market is that we have a lot of options as well, with drivers wanting to do it.
“We’re just trying to put something together that works, based off our experience.”
The Daytona effort will mark the team’s third different program in the span of two months, and comes in the middle of its three-car Asian Le Mans Series campaign.
The third round of the 2017/18 season in Buiram, Thailand falls one week after the Roar Before the Rolex 24, with the season finale in Sepang directly following the Rolex 24.
Cheng said they plan to leverage Jota’s partnership with Arden Motorsport, as well as its growing crop of Asian-based mechanics, in the coming months.
“Luckily with Jota we have good partnerships,” he said. “We have our core group of Asian mechanics.
“We brought eight of them [to Shanghai] to really study the WEC program and apply what they’ve learned to the Asian Le Mans Series.
“That whole program is part of our pyramid, which is not just drivers.
“That’s the benefit for us running Asian Le Mans. We’re developing a whole other crew to take on when we have capacity [issues] like this.”
TPNAEC Plans Materializing
Cheng said the idea would be to have one car contest the entire Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, although admitted the results from Daytona could have an influence on the overall program.
“We’ll see after Daytona what happens points-wise,” he said. “I really like the idea of the NAEC. I guess it all falls down to where Daytona leaves us.
“Luckily there’s some good amount of time between Daytona and Sebring to get that sorted.
“By that time, the Asian season will be finished so we could upgrade one of the cars.”