Congfu Cheng (Franky Cheng) is a Chinese racing driver, currently driving in DTM. In this interview he shares his thoughts on the Asian Le Mans Series debut.
Cheng started his formula racing career with the British Formula Ford Winter Series in 2001. In 2003 he will be supported by the McLaren Formula One team, as part of its driver development programme. He joined A1 Team China and drove in the A1 Grand Prix series from the 2006-07 season to the 2008-09 season. He is the first Chinese driver to participate, finish and score a class podium in the 24 Hours of Le Mans when his Saulnier Team LMP2 Pescarolo finished 3rd in the LMP2 class of the 2008 event. In November 2011, Franky partnered with 1998 and 1999 F1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen and Lance David Arnold to drive a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG at the 2011 6 Hours of Zhuhai race, a round of the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. With his extensive experience and success in different types of motor racings and knowledge of the various racing tracks at home, he is a popular racer in China.
How did you get to know the Asian Le mans Series? Did you hear about it before the news was released? I got the news from the “AUTOSPORT”. When I got the news, I was glad to see that the Le Mans Series was finally being introduced to Asia and China.
When I looked into the new competition rules, I thought that the grouping was a great idea. It sets a variety of groups and allows a combination of amateur drivers and professional drivers.
Besides, it also stipulates that every team must include an Asian driver, so local drivers will have more opportunity to cooperate with foreign counterparts. In the process of cooperation, they can familiarize themselves to drivers in other classes.
As an Asian driver, I think it is the good news for you. How do you think other Asian drivers will treat this new sports event? This is of course good news because if more competitions can be held in China, endurance events in China will have a great promotion and more car fans can get to know the endurance format.
At the same time, it provides more opportunities for young drivers within China and gives them invaluable boost towards their career development.
As a famous formula driver, you can show your great driving skills in Asian Le Mans Series, right? And you have great scores in A1. What are the benefits to you if you can compete with world’s top drivers in the Asian LeMans Series? In 2008, I was the first Chinese driver to take part in the famous Le Mans 24 hours and my team finished third in LMP2.
Competing with world’s top drivers helped me a lot. The competition left such an impression on me; it can even be described as shocking.
The main rules of Asian Le Mans Series are that every car shall have both professional drivers and amateur drivers and at least have one Asian driver. Do you think other Asian drivers will be interested in this? I think it provides greater space and more opportunities for Asian drivers and lets them take part in first class worldwide competition to enrich experience and transcend themselves.
You have taken part in the Le Mans 6 hours in 2011 in Zhuhai. What advantages does Le Mans Series have?What do you expect in Asian LeMans Series in 2013? I took part in the GTC racing competition with the Mercedes-Benz AMG team in 2011. To my regret, we didn’t finish the competition due to the car failure.
So, I’m quite looking forward to reaching the top of the podium in China in 2013. Le Mans 24 hours is a harsh test of the performance of the car, the driver’s endurances and wills.
I hope more professional teams and drivers can take part in the Asian Lemans Series in 2013 to keep the high quality of this competition, and cooperation with media to let more people know about this competition and maintain its presence in Asia.
Asian Le Mans Series