Images - Creventic, ADAC
Although only launched this year, the Prototype Cup Germany already attracts teams from different countries. The Finnish colours are represented by the team Koiranen Kemppi Motorsport, which is entered by the Finn Jesse Salmenautio and the Swede Sebastian Arenram.
Team boss Marko Koiranen has been running a racing team since 1997, gaining initial experience in Finnish Formula 3 and Formula 4 as well as Nordic Formula 3. After six seasons in the far north, he ventured into the German Formula Renault 2.0 and a little later into the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup. In 2007, a certain Valtteri Bottas knocked on the door and together with the current Finnish Formula 1 driver, the small team was able to inspire. The reward was a third place in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC), which emerged from the German series. In 2010, Marko Koiranen's team celebrated its first major title when it won the Eurocup with Estonian Kevin Korjus. Before that, they had already won the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 winter series with Atte Mustonen.
These successes made the Finnish squad one of the most sought-after teams in Formula Renault 2.0, which from then on was also allowed to train Red Bull juniors. Further titles followed, including with Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat. "We were one of the strongest teams in Formula Renault 2.0," said Koiranen, summing up this important phase for his team. It ended in 2015 - not without bidding a fitting farewell with the Eurocup and Formula Renault 2.0 Alps titles, both with Jack Aitken in the cockpit. "Of the Formula 1 field that lined up at the start in Bahrain in 2020, half of them have been in one of our cars at some point, be it in races or even in tests. And from the current Formula 1, we have had Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz, George Russell as well as Esteban Ocon racing series, plus Max Verstappen and Alex Albon testing with us."
In addition to their involvement in the GP3 Series, which was discontinued at the end of 2016 after four years, the Finns wanted to focus on Formula 4 from 2016 onwards, where they acted as promoters of the series in Finland, Spain and later Russia. "But with the start of the Corona pandemic and later also with the war in Ukraine, it became more and more difficult to run race series without losing money," said Koiranen, who currently only manages the junior race series Formula Academy Finland.
In December 2020, Marko Koiranen received a call from Iceland: Audunn Gudmundsson had just bought an LMP3 Ligier and was looking for a team to run his entry in the Michelin Le Mans Cup. "We were not in any race series at the time, so we accepted. So we ended up in the LMP3 world by a big coincidence. Honestly, before this request, I only had formula racing in mind, but I have to say I like LMP3." He didn't see any big differences to his previous field anyway: "An LMP3 car also has four wheels, a steering wheel, an engine and a gearbox. The drivers are a bit older, but therefore more relaxed. And there are fewer parents who constantly want to tell you what to do..."
After its debut year under the Team Thor label, the team is now competing again under its own name, Koiranen Kemppi Motorsport, and is completing the Asian Le Mans Series and Prototype Cup Germany this season. "The Prototype Cup Germany consists of only four race weekends, but in this day and age it might not be such a bad idea to start with just a few events. For small teams like us, it's easier to find a budget for four weekends than one for, say, eight race weekends. As a team, we had a good name in junior formula racing, but we are only at the beginning in LMP3. Again, we need to get good results first to get drivers to come to us." Still, he would like to see more races in the future. "Five or six dates would be great."
And Marko Koiranen has also already thought about the future of his team: "I like the Prototype Cup Germany and plan to compete with two cars next season." And for the somewhat nearer future, he still wants a podium. "I think if we have a bit of luck and one or the other rival maybe doesn't have a good day, we could make it at the finale in Hockenheim. In any case, we will give everything."
22 – 24 April Spa-Francorchamps (B), 24H Series
15 – 17 July Nürburgring, ADAC Truck Grand Prix
19 – 21 August DEKRA Lausitzring, Family & Friends Festival
21 – 23 October Hockenheimring, ADAC GT Masters
(subject to changes)