Images - ADAC, Creventic
After three of four race weekends in the Prototype Cup Germany, Matthias Lüthen is leading the Trophy standings. The Hamburg native came to motorsport late in life, but his comparatively little experience does not prevent him from having already pulled out some top results together with his team-mate Donar Munding. For example, the duo from Mühlner Motorsport climbed the podium for the first time in second place at the Nürburgring in mid-July, and then even won at the Lausitzring a few weeks later. "The victory was a really good feeling, because it was my first ever triumph in motorsport," said Lüthen. "But I was almost even happier about second place at the Nürburgring. The year before it didn't go well at all, I had a lot of technical problems in the Michelin Le Mans Cup and consequently no good results. After the bad experiences, my podium finish in the Eifel was a kind of liberation. I felt that everything is now moving in the right direction and starting to fit together."
Lüthen is a classic latecomer to racing. "A few years ago, I gave my brother a ride in an old Formula 3000 racer for his bachelor party and I also did a few laps back then. That's when I was directly infected by the racing virus." He booked more test days, got his licence and completed his first races in the Drexler Automotive Cup at the wheel of a Formula Renault 2.0 at the end of 2019. "I finished second once and third once. That's when I thought to myself - looking back, probably with a bit of hubris: apparently I can do quite well; I need to move up to a higher racing class." So he looked for a testing opportunity in the top-class Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, which unexpectedly turned into a chance to contest the final. "Then I had to realise: The Eurocup is a completely different world to the Drexler Automotive Cup; I had absolutely no chance and finished last twice with a large gap."
Nevertheless, the then 38-year-old was not discouraged and remained faithful to Formula cars - first continuing with Formula Renault, then Formula 3. "At some point, I got in touch with Motopark, where I did a lot of testing. When regular driver Jak Crawford dropped out for a round of the 2021 EuroFormula Open, team boss Timo Rumpfkeil had asked me if I wanted to step in. I was able to keep up well in the back third and had some nice battles with my rivals - that was more than I had expected and, looking back, the highlight of my Formula time."
For the businessman, another field had surprisingly opened up. "Tom Dillmann, my coach at Motopark, had asked me at the beginning of 2021 whether I would spontaneously like to contest a Michelin Le Mans Cup race with him. At the time, I didn't even know exactly what an LMP3 car was. So I went to Barcelona and sat in an LMP3 for the first time that race weekend. And I finished fourth in qualifying in the field of 26 cars." That made it clear to him: the prototype world was to be his new sporting home.
After spontaneously racing for Mühlner Motorsport in Spain, he found a team in Team Virage for which he could drive the following Michelin Le Mans Cup races, but the LMP rookie was not happy there due to many technical problems. When the foundation of the Prototype Cup Germany then became apparent for 2022, Lüthen immediately showed interest. "It's a German racing series, both the ADAC and Creventic are behind it and I was able to work with Mühlner again. I also get on very well with my teammate Donar Munding. And things are also going well on the track: Donar is leading the Junior classification, I am in first place in the Trophy classification and we are currently in second place in the drivers' classification. Above all, we want to defend these two top positions at the finale in Hockenheim and are already preparing intensively for it. The Prototype Cup Germany is definitely a challenge for me as a bronze medallist, but I feel very comfortable here. I think the overall level of the field is very high, but there is still a great atmosphere among us drivers. We respect each other but still fight hard for positions on the track."
For the future, he has set his sights on competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. "That's probably the logical goal of any LMP3 driver and I'm working towards that too, even if it's obviously not within reach right now." Next year he still wants to be in an LMP3 car. "I think I have a lot to learn before I make the step up to LMP2. If I dare to make the step up, then I also want to be optimally prepared."