Jackie Chan DC Racing x Jota Sport scored its second podium finish in as many races after the #38 ORECA of Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and 19-year-old Thomas Laurent finished third in the prestigious FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, ensuring the Chinese team arrives at the legendary Le Man 24 Hours as the LMP2 championship leaders. The #37 ORECA of David Cheng, Alex Brundle and Tristan Gommendy led the race, but an incident and electrical problems thwarted their efforts.
A challenging qualifying session saw the #38 ORECA start the race from the back of the LMP2 grid. In front of an estimated 61,000-strong crowd, Jarvis was first tasked with battling his way through the ultra-competitive field and, by the end of his double stint, the Briton had put the car in the top five. Tung took over driving duties and, despite a small spin after a tangle with an LMP1, also did a strong double stint before WEC newcomer Laurent took over.
“After our misfortune in qualifying yesterday with a gearbox issue that prevented us from doing a proper lap time,” said Ho-Pin Tung. “We started from the back of the LMP2 grid. Oliver [Jarvis] had a really tough job to go out first on the qualifying set of tyres. That was part of the strategy, to try to be really aggressive, to hopefully have pace later on during the race. He managed it really well.
“I went in the car and everything was going according to plan. We lost a bit of time when I had a misunderstanding with an LMP1 car and I ran wide in the ‘Bruxelles’ hairpin and spun. The car was really good and we were able to gradually make our way through the field and to the podium. I think we can be very happy with all the hard work from everyone here at Jackie Chan DC Racing and Jota Sport. We’re still learning as a team but most important is that we have two races under our belts, one win and one third and we’re leading the championship and we know where are the areas to improve. We’ll be pushing hard at Le Mans.”
The #37 ORECA was firmly in contention early in the race, with Gommendy taking the car from eighth on the grid to third by the end of his opening double stint. Brundle had the #37 ORECA leading the LMP2 category by the end of his double stint, with Cheng taking over and maintain the pace. Unfortunately, an incident going up to Eau Rouge in the latter stages of the race forced a pit stop. The crack team was able to repair the car and get the #37 ORECA back out on track in record time. An electrical problem then presented another challenge, but a brilliant effort by Brundle saw the team recover to cross the finish line and collect valuable championship points.
#37 David Cheng: “It was an eventful race for our #37 ORECA and a missed opportunity. At the start of the race, Tristan [Gommendy] had a really fast first and second stint, impressively taking us from eighth on the grid up to third. Alex [Brundle] got in after for another planned double stint and did a fantastic job. He got us into the lead by the end of his run. I got in the car, came out of a longer four-tyre change pit stop in third and managed to keep a bit of the pace and ended up pitting in fourth. Up to that point, we were en route to finish in the top five and hunt for a podium.
“I got out of the car and during Tristan’s next run he had a bit snap going up Eau Rouge and had a big shunt. We’re really glad Tristan was okay, as luckily it was into the tyre barriers, which limited the damage. The team did a really fantastic job fixing it – I think we spent three minutes in the garage. We sent Tristan back out, before putting Alex in for the final hour and 40 minutes. We had another electrical problem and the car came to a stop, but Alex did a good job cycling the power and getting it going again.
“We were looking really good for the first four hours of the race and we even managed to lead the race, but this is endurance racing; it’s a season-long process. The result was not as good as we had hoped, but we really showed we have the potential to fight at the front. We’ll take the points and now we’ll take the fight to Le Mans.”
With two races under its belt, the team is now looking ahead to the next FIA WEC round, the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans. A highlight of the year, Jackie Chan DC Racing x Jota Sport will be taking its might to the legendary race as it continues its quest for the FIA WEC LMP2 championship crown.