THE JOTA racing team narrowly missed out on a remarkble victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend in partnership with Jackie Chan’s DC Racing.
The Frant-based outfit were beaten into second place by Porsche, who recovered from a huge setback to pip them to the flag and win the iconic World Endurance Championship race for a third successive year.
But DC Racing’s runners-up berth for the 38 Oreca car was hailed as a stunning result.
And after the late disqualification of Rebellion Racing in third place – for a violation of bodywork regulations – the team’s other competing car, 37 Oreca, was promoted on to the podium in third place.
The result also meant that they took both winners’ and runners-up spots in the LMP2 class – almost upstaging the more powerful LMP1 cars.
The legendary martial arts movie star Chan contemplated making a last-minute flight to France after his team moved into victory contention.
They came close to a huge upset when they were -promoted into the overall lead with three hours to go as a high attrition rate struck the remodelled LMP1 field.
In a year that saw the LMP2 class lapping upwards of 10 seconds faster than last year following an overhaul of the regulations, the 38 Oreca emerged clear in the class battle thanks to the combined efforts of drivers Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung.
‘How exciting! It’s exactly like when I got an Oscar’
Staying out of trouble despite the ‘brutally’ hot conditions, the trio climbed to second as LMP1 cars fell by the wayside. They took the lead when the No 1 Porsche, which was ahead by 13 laps, came to a halt.
The fairy tale was ended by the fast recovering No 2 Porsche 919 as it retook the lead with just over an hour to go despite having spent an hour in the pits.
Tung crossed the line in second position, just a lap away from outright victory.
Team owner David Cheng, who finished on the podium in third place in the 37 car, said: “This is absolutely an incredible day for the entire team.
“The challenge was going to be for class victories and LMP2 victories so to make it on to the overall podium is incredible.
He added: “Jackie is not with us today as he has other commitments in China but he has been supporting us all the way with calls and right before the chequered flag he was on the phone cheering on with all of us as part of the team.”
Chan bought a stake in Cheng’s team last year, and the 63-year-old sent a message from Shanghai saying: “How exciting! It’s exactly like when I got an Oscar. Really, watching it on video, I’m just sorry I could not be there.”