David Cheng says the prospects of seeing a Chinese manufacturer commit to the Le Mans Hypercar class is currently in a “wait and see” game, although remains optimistic for the future.
The Jackie Chan DC Racing co-owner has been in continued dialogue with manufacturers on the prospects of mounting a top-level prototype program, although recent economic challenges in China are understood to have slowed the process.
While Cheng declined to go into detail, it’s believed the ongoing U.S.-China trade war has created difficulties, but may not necessarily be a road block for a privately-funded initiative under a manufacturer’s approval.
“Having some private conversations, I’d say there’s definitely interest amongst Chinese manufacturers, something like the R-Motorsport and [Aston Martin] Valkyrie cooperation or even with Rebellion-Peugeot,” Cheng told Sportscar365.
“From a private sector, can we raise something like that? There is ongoing conversations.
“With manufacturers, it’s obviously much harder in China as manufacturers, more or less, have government interest in their companies.
“It’s a lot less in our control. Even sometimes when you make a great business case out of it, there’s larger pictures at play.
“Our belief is that sooner or later, all this stuff will sort itself out and everything will be back to normal again.
“Right now, it’s a bit of a wait-and-see game.”
Cheng said for the time being, his team’s focus will remain in the LMP2 ranks, with the ambition of returning to a two-car operation under the DC Racing banner next season in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The JOTA-run operation has been split between seperate Oreca 07 Gibson entries this season, one run entirely under the British team’s banner, although the two entries still have an open-book policy of sharing data.
“It’s an open garage; we do our debriefs together,” Cheng said. “It’s been no different. Honestly the only difference is the branding on the car.
“I think from Jackie [Chan]’s side he wants the two cars together, but on my side, we need to make the decisions based on that year.”
Asian LMS Return, China Satellite Base Targeted
Cheng says his “ultimate task” for 2020 will be to establish a China base for the team ahead of a potential return to the Asian Le Mans Series.
“The target I’ve set myself at the beginning of this season, and the cogs are actually starting to turn on this, for us to set up shop in China,” he said.
“It’s not in competition to anything we do here but what we see is, from a private market, there’s more and more customer racing going on in China.”
Cheng said several outings in the China GT Championship that saw him fly in mechanics from current and previous programs made him realize the need to develop local talent.
“Actually there’s not enough people or teams to service all of the demand,” he said.
“We’re very keen on being on the ground and having a satellite base in China in order to service and grow, not just customer racing, but racing in general in China.
“If I can achieve that in 2020 then I think we have a great foundation for this team to expand.”