After achieving success as a driver, David Cheng is set to take on a whole new set of responsibilities, with the formation of his own team for the 2015/2016 Asian Le Mans Series season.
The two-time and reigning series champion has launched DC Racing, which will initially enter the LMP3 ranks but with the ultimate goal of taking a Chinese manufacturer to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
For the 26-year-old Beijing native, who has also enjoyed racing success in the U.S., including a class victory at the Twelve Hours of Sebring, the timing was right to make the move into becoming a team owner.
“Starting my own team is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Cheng told Sportscar365.
“The idea was there but it was always a dream scenario. Realistically, everything came together really well, although it’s been a real push.
“Two weeks after Le Mans, we got the go-ahead and started to work on what it takes to form the team. Between then and now it’s been a really short time to put everything together.”
Cheng has quickly assembled a solid foundation, having brought on Remy Brouard, the mastermind of OAK Racing Team Asia’s effort, as team principal, with Ho-Pin Tung as his co-driver in the new Ligier JS P3.
He’s also managed to secure a significant, yet-to-be-announced partner in the team, which is likely to help gain mainstream media attention not only in China but abroad.
“Our whole target with starting this team is to keep the story rolling,” Cheng explained. “We started a project two years ago in Asian Le Mans and with Chinese drivers at OAK Racing.
“We feel like we haven’t achieved our goal yet, which is obviously to win Le Mans.”
For now, the immediate focus will be on the four-round Asian LMS championship, which will see the China-based outfit forge a technical partnership with leading LMP2 outfit Eurasia Motorsport for the first season.
“We wanted to work with an Asian-based team on the technical assistance for this year,” Cheng said. “Slowly we’ll start to bring in our own technical crew as we move forward.
“But as we’ve been working on an accelerated timeline, for this first season, it makes sense to find a team that’s experienced in Asia and endurance racing. So our partnership with Eurasia makes a lot of sense.”
With the LMP3 class champion in the Asian LMS receiving an automatic invite to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in LMP2, Cheng has targeted his team making a trip to the French endurance classic, should they secure an entry.
“The idea is to do it with a Ligier JS P2,” he said. “Working with OAK Racing and the Onroak factory for this long, it definitely makes sense to continue our relationship, especially with our core group of drivers and with Remy.
“Of course watching KCMG take the [LMP2] victory was a little envious. Being a Hong Kong team, I think they’ve paved the way and have shown that it’s achievable for an Asian team to come into LMP2, go to Le Mans and achieve victory.
“For our team, we want to be flying the Chinese flag at Le Mans. We know we have to set a realistic target in our first year.”
Cheng, however, is banking on the big potential in his country’s burgeoning automotive industry, as he’s laid out the long-term goal of aligning with a Chinese manufacturer and help take them to the global stage.
“The 20, 30 or 40-year dream is to emulate what Carroll Shelby has done in the U.S., but in China,” Cheng said.
“Chinese [auto] manufacturers already exist but most of the cars they’re selling are all within China, and to be frank, the quality isn’t quite up to the established major manufacturers are at yet.
“That’s where I see the opportunity and that’s where Le Mans racing comes in. Le Mans is all about developing technology for manufacturers and the Chinese auto industry is a perfect fit.
“The clear goal is to become the sporting arm for one of these manufacturers. Of course, forming my own team is the first step in that goal.”
A number of Chinese automakers could be in position for such a move, including Dongfeng Motor, the country’s largest independent brand; Geely, owners of Volvo, which recently purchased Miller Motorsports Park; and Beijing Automotive, which already fields a single-make series in China.
Cheng has strategically established his team’s base in the city of Wuhan, which is considered to be China’s automotive and transportation hub of more than 10 million people.
“I’ve visited a lot of these factories already and have been actively trying to convince them to go into sports car racing,” he said.
“More and more, as racing is developing in China, all of these brands are recognizing it and realizing the value in racing. Especially as they’re heavily into R&D right now, going racing, especially sports car racing, makes sense.
“For me, establishing the team is definitely a key step in developing key partnerships over here in China.”