Premiere for the new Prototype Cup Germany in Spa: Notes from last weekend’s opening round of the new series for LMP3 prototypes in Belgium.
Eleven LMP3 cars – run by eleven different teams – took their place on the grid at the inaugural weekend of the Prototype Cup Germany. Many of the teams own more LMP3 cars and are working on being able to field them too in the future. The fact that the eleven teams put their faith in three different chassis (Duqueine, Ligier and Ginetta) also made for an attractive level of diversity. The three manufacturers then underlined the importance of the Prototype Cup Germany within their companies with the level of support they provided: Ligier and Duqueine each brought a large truck full of parts to the venue, while Ginetta sent an engineer to the circuit in Belgium. Oreca, supplier of the standard Nissan engines in LMP3, also had an engineer on site for two days, and was on hand to offer advice to the competitors.
The experienced Franz Konrad had every intention of joining his partner Axcil Jefferies at the wheel of the Ginetta run by his own team, Konrad Motorsport. However, the former runner-up in the 24 Hours of Le Mans injured his arm just a few days prior to the event and was forced to withdraw before the first qualifying session. That left Jefferies the only man in the field with sole responsibility for the driving duties in his car: the driver from Zimbabwe finished seventh and sixth.
Nevertheless, Konrad still added a certain Le Mans feeling to the LMP3 prototype paddock – and he was not the only man to list the French endurance classic on his CV. His own team manager Ralf Jüttner has been involved in 16 Le Mans victories for Porsche and Audi in a position of responsibility. Karl Jennings, now team manager at Gebhardt Motorsport, has worked as a mechanic at eight editions of the 24-hour race. Also present in the ADAC Formula 4 paddock were Alexander Wurz and Christian Ried, who were watching their sons in action. Wurz has twice celebrated overall victory in Le Mans, while Ried has one class victory to his name.
ADAC Formula 4 played a major role in the career of Marvin Dienst, who was crowned the first champion of the junior series in 2015. “It is nice to experience a race weekend together with Formula 4 again, even though the series has obviously changed a little. For example, they no longer drive the cars that I did during my time in the series. Instead, they have a new chassis with the Halo, which is commonplace nowadays.” The 25-year-old himself has developed into a versatile racing driver, who is also right at home in an LMP3 car. Together with his partner Berkay Besler, Dienst won both races in the Ardennes.
The appearance of Racing Experience marked the return to Germany of a team that really made its mark on German motorsport in the ATS Formula 3 Cup from 2007 to 2010. Back then, David and Gary Hauser were among those at the wheel. Gary still drives nowadays. His brother David, on the other hand, is now to be found on the other side of the pit wall as Managing Director and race engineer in his parents’ team. After eleven years in racing series outside Germany, with only individual outings at German racetracks, the registration in the Prototype Cup Germany sees the team from Luxembourg make its comeback in German motor racing.
There was a thin line between joy and pain for Nielsen Racing at the Formula 1 circuit in Belgium. Matt Bell shone in the second qualifying session with a time of 2:11.804 minutes; over half a second faster than Marvin Dienst in second place. However, his partner John Melsom hit the barriers and crashed out in the early stages of race one. As the British team was unable to assess unequivocally whether or not the chassis had suffered damage, they instead erred on the safe side and borrowed a Duqueine from Rinaldi Racing. Nielsen Racing finished ninth in race two, before returning the chassis undamaged. Incidentally, regulations meant that Bell was unable to take his place on pole and had to start from tenth on the grid.