Jackie Chan DC Racing team co-owner David Cheng has admitted it’s “not impossible” to see the team step up to LMP1 next year, amid increased talks of a potential manufacturer-backed effort in the restructured class.
The Jota Sport-run operation, which currently leads the LMP2 title race in the FIA World Endurance Championship, has laid out ambitions of eventually moving to the top prototype class with a Chinese manufacturer.
That timeline could now potentially be accelerated following the FIA and ACO’s newly announced plan to combine hybrid and non-hybrid prototypes into a single category via Equivalence of Technology for the 2018/19 ‘Super Season.’
“After this race, I’m back to China and back to work,” Cheng told Sportscar365 in Austin, site of this weekend’s Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas. “In some ways, we’ll know real soon.
“To make it realistic for next year, it has to happen quite quickly.
“From my side, it’s a little out of my hands too as we have to see what all the manufacturers think of [the ‘Super Season’] format.
“I think if we can nail something down quickly, and I know the general interest is there, it’s not impossible.
“At the same time, if we want to sit down and really do it right and make the long-term plan, it’s something maybe we look at once it shifts past the ‘Super Season.’
“But who knows. We could get a go-ahead [soon].”
Cheng said he’s been in discussions with multiple prospective manufacturers since the team’s historic class victory at Le Mans, although admitted that time’s running out to put a program together for next year.
He said the topic of LMP1 chassis options has been a discussion “around the dinner table” but nothing they’ve yet explored in great detail.
A handful of options should be available to customers next year, including projects from Ginetta and Dallara/BR Engineering, as well as continued rumors of potential upgraded LMP2 cars from ORECA and Onroak Automotive.
“That question depends on the lede time we’d have,” Cheng said. “Can you do something more bespoke or do you do something as a temporary bandage and evolve from it?
“To be honest, it depends what I can do on the China side.”
Cheng believes the restructured class, which is aimed to give non-hybrid LMP1 cars a chance of victory, is the right step forward, particularly for LMP2 teams such as his looking to make the next move.
“What the ACO did was to really give a platform for teams to expand, which I think is the correct decision,” he said.
“It gives teams like us a place to go and expand. As we are quite ambitious, if we see nothing but a dead end, we would explore going somewhere else.”
With its current commitment in the WEC part of a two-to-three year plan, Cheng sees the team continuing in LMP2 should a LMP1 deal not materialize for next year,
“If we can’t get manufacturer involvement, we’ll be staying in LMP2 and doing a strong effort like we have and waiting for the opportunity,” he said.
“I believe as long as you’re doing a good job and good performance on track, it will come.”