Ho-Pin Tung expects Jackie Chan DCR JOTA to be an “underdog” in its debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend but remains conservative about the team’s chances amid tough opposition.
The reigning 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 winner believes his team can get a good result with its pair of Oreca 07 Gibsons despite a disappointing showing at the Roar Before the 24.
“When we came to the Roar, we managed to tick all the boxes we needed, being new here in the U.S. I think pace-wise, we weren’t really where we hoped we would be, but that applied to many teams,” Tung told Sportscar365.
“Since then IMSA has obviously done BoP changes. I think it panned out really well in leveling the field out, which was shown by an extremely exciting tight yesterday.
“We’re still learning. Qualifying-wise, we hoped we’d be slightly more towards the front but we had minor things that we can still improve.
“Preparation-wise, we’ve always been very strong, shown by our results in WEC and winning Le Mans last year.”
After class victory at Le Mans which included his car running in the overall lead for a while, Tung admits that a second win in as many 24-hour races is his ultimate target for the weekend ahead.
“Obviously it would mean a lot, like everyone,” he said. “Almost the entire Prototype field comes here with the intention of winning this race. It’s one of the blue ribbon events around the world in endurance racing.
“For us, we’re probably in an underdog position, I would say, which is how I see it compared to all the DPis and the teams that have been running here for so many years and have been so successful.
“We wouldn’t come here if we didn’t think we’d be able to compete at the front. We know our package very well from the WEC, and it’s just making the adjustments to racing here in the U.S.”
The main challenge for the Jota Sport-run team has been to adapt to the different aspects of racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, according to Tung.
“I think the Roar gave us the opportunity to get used to the differences between racing in WEC and racing in the U.S. in IMSA,” he said.
“We’ve also [got to] get to know the Continental tire which is a significant difference to what we use in WEC. Everything has been moving very well so far, I have to say.
“As a team, with the way we operate, at the Roar it was all trying to get used to and get a feel of how we need to manage things.
“Obviously here, you work differently and with the curfew, which is different for the mechanics and the team in terms of how they work.”
Nevertheless, Tung is enjoying the team’s Rolex 24 debut and feels prepared for its second major 24-hour race.
“There’s quite a few differences, with the tires and the way they race here as well, but of course it’s one of those big endurance events,” he said.
“We’re still a very young team with our partnership with Jota so to come here and embark on our second big 24-hour event is definitely exciting.
“We’re calm and we’re doing what we’re good at and why we’ve been so successful last year.”