Eight races into the season, the van Ommen racing by Datalab team has its nose ahead in the new Team competition, which was introduced in this year’s Prototype Cup Germany. They have opened a 14-point lead over their closest rivals, Racing Experience. Former DTM driver Jörg van Ommen’s team lines up with two Duqueine this year, driven by Oscar Tunjo (27/COL) / Julian Apothéloz (22/CHE) and Gabriela Jílková (28/CZE) / Xavier Lloveras (23/ESP). Lucas Mauron (25/CHE) has also raced for the latter of these two pairings, while Belén García Espinar (23/ESP) has also helped out successfully.
The reason behind their success is crystal clear to Jörg van Ommen: “Why are we leading the Team competition? Because we have the best driver pairings. I am by no means saying that our rivals are no good, but I just believe that the way our two duos, the way they are set up, are top.” He explains it as such: “On the whole, everyone is familiar with the LMP3 cars, and they are not developed by the teams. As such, it primarily comes down to the drivers and we have really good guys and girls in our ranks. In Rinaldi Racing, we also have an experienced team, which is responsible for running the cars. And in DataLab we have a partner that provides us with valuable support.”
The result so far underline just why van Ommen is so impressed by his protégés. A car in the colours of van ommen racing by DataLab has made it onto the front row of the grid in six of the eight qualifying sessions so far, with each of the two cars achieving that feat on three occasions. Only once has the podium not featured a van ommen duo, although both pairings attended the presentation ceremony after race one at the Norisring. The two cars have also shared the podium finishes between them: the number six car, with Tunjo / Apothéloz at the wheel, has amassed five top-three results. The number five car, meanwhile, has finished first, second or third on three occasions – and with two different pairings. Lloveras / Jílková claimed two podiums in Zandvoort, while the Spaniard made it onto the podium alongside his off-track partner García Espinar in Nuremberg. Lloveras’ compatriot was standing in for Jílková, who was unable to make the Norisring weekend due to another motorsport commitment. The fact that all the team’s drivers immediately fit in so well was by no means a given, as van Ommen had selected two drivers – Jílková and Apothéloz – who had only moved into prototype racing from the GT scene in 2023. “We trusted them to make the switch, and they mastered it in no time.”
One of the reasons they were able to make the transition so successfully was without doubt because they received such good support from within the team. “The role of our engineer Kevin Mirocha should not be underestimated here,” says van Ommen. “For example, he really wanted Gabi to be given an LMP3 test, and he was absolutely right to rate Gabi so highly. Kevin used to race himself, including in Formula 3 and GP2, so he knows what he is talking about. As such, he works very well with our drivers. And he can get into the psyche of a racing driver.”
Four race weekends into the season, van Ommen is still pleased with his decision to move with his team from GT racing to prototypes – and not just because of the fine results they have enjoyed so far. “I feel right at home in the Prototype Cup Germany. It is a good series, from both an organisational and a sporting perspective, in which the pure racing takes centre stage. The paddock is a pleasant, friendly environment, which I miss in many other racing classes nowadays. I sometimes feel like I have gone back in time by about 30 years, which is a very positive thing in my opinion. And regardless of that, I also believe that the Prototype Cup Germany offers the best value for money that you can get in German motorsport at the moment.”