Here are a few other things we noticed at races seven and eight of this season’s Prototype Cup Germany at the Norisring.
Matthias Lüthen claims the first victory by a Bronze driver
Matthias Lüthen (42/Hamburg), who partners Laurents Hörr (25/Gerlingen, both Koiranen Kemppi Motorsport), became the first Bronze driver to win a race in this year’s Prototype Cup Germany. “The race somehow seemed to go our way,” he said, referring to the crash involving Oscar Tunjo (27/COL, van ommen racing by DataLab) and Gustavo Kiryla (29/BRA, BWT Mücke Motorsport), and the retirement of Robin Rogalski (22/POL, DKR Engineering). “However, I have learned that luck and misfortune somehow always balance each other out in motorsport.” The racer from Hamburg, who also picked up the prize for the best Trophy driver in heat one, was impressed by the event at the Norisring. “Regardless of our result, this is a great circuit. It is fantastic that an event like this can still take place in this day and age, and that we can be a part of it in the Prototype Cup Germany.”
Prototype Cup Germany partners, on and off the track
Spaniard Belén García Espinar (23/ESP, van ommen racing by DataLab) was standing in for Gabriela Jílková (28/CZE, van ommen racing by DataLab) at the Norisring, as other obligations meant the Czech driver was unable to make it to Nuremberg. Back in 2019, García Espinar became the first woman to win a Formula 4 race. Since then, she has shifted her focus to prototype racing. At the Norisring, she was sharing a Duqueine with Xavier Lloveras (23/ESP, van ommen racing by DataLab), with whom she is also a couple away from the racetrack. “Xavier is also my coach, I learned everything from him. The fact that we are now able to compare each other in the same car, and to chat about our experiences, is really rather special.” Before she found her way into motor racing, she was an active pole vaulter. “I even entered the Spanish championships. However, since I have been involved in motorsport, I have given up pole vaulting.”
Eye-catching performance from Belén García Espinar
Spending a race weekend competing alongside her boyfriend in the same car seemed to give Belén García Espinar extra motivation. She crossed the finish line second in heat one and also came up just short of completing the fasts lap of the race. “She was only 0.01 seconds slower than Nico Göhler, who set the fastest lap time,” said her impressed team principal, Jörg van Ommen. “However, what impressed me most was how she dealt with the opening lap. She did not back off in the chicane, but instead stayed alongside Max van der Snel. That ultimately allowed her to get past him and move into third place early in the race.” García Espinar is the second female driver to make it onto the Prototype Cup Germany podium with van Ommen’s team: two weeks ago, Gabriela Jílková achieved the same feat with an equally impressive performance in Zandvoort.
This weekend, the trophies for the best Juniors went to Belén García Espinar and Xavier Lloveras in heat one, and Nico Göhler (20/Grasleben, BWT Mücke Motorsport) in race two. The Spanish duo climbed onto the second step of the podium, as did Göhler, who finished runner-up in the second race together with Gustavo Kiryla. The weekend’s results mean that the best-placed Juniors in each of the season’s eight races so far have all made it onto the overall podium.
Michael Lyons makes his comeback
Courtney Crone (22/USA, Gebhardt Motorsport) was unable to start at the Norisring, due to a racing commitment in North America. Taking her place at Gebhardt Motorsport was Michael Lyons (32/GBR, Gebhardt Motorsport), who raced in the Prototype Cup Germany at the Lausitzring last year. The Briton, who also drives vintage race cars for Gebhardt Motorsport, was more than happy to keep Crone’s seat warm in Nuremberg. “Because I do a lot of historical motorsport and also things like coaching, my schedule unfortunately makes it difficult to contest a full season in the Prototype Cup Germany. However, I do have experience with LMP cars, so switching to an LMP3 for a one-off is no problem for me.” The Norisring did not concern him greatly either. “I know street circuits from Monaco, where I enjoyed some success. And the bumps here were not as bad as at the Lausitzring last year.”
Danny Soufi on his one again in the Konrad Ginetta
Danny Soufi (19/USA, Konrad Motorsport) is having a season full of variety, as far as his team-mates are concerned. At the season-opener in Hockenheim, he shared the Ginetta with Nicholas Silva (27/USA, Konrad Motorsport). He then drove the number two car alone in Oschersleben, before Axcil Jeffries (29/Konrad Motorsport) joined him in Zandvoort. At the Norisring, he was back to driving both 55-minute races without any assistance from a partner. “Axcil had to pull out at short notice, due to another engagement, and we were not able to find a new driver so spontaneously,” explained team principal Franz Konrad. Konrad may actually get back behind the wheel himself for the final two race weekends. “If my right foot recovers sufficiently, after I pulled pretty much everything you can pull six weeks ago, then I can imagine starting.”
No team-mates for Jan Marschalkowski at his home event
It was a similar story to Soufi for Jan Marschalkowski (20/Inning am Ammersee, MRS GT-Racing). He started alongside Marco Kacic (20/CAN, MRS GT-Racing) in Hockenheim and Oschersleben, before Jasper Stiksma (22/NDL, MRS GT-Racing) took the Canadian’s place in Zandvoort. However, despite Marschalkowski and Stiksma taking a surprise victory, the Dutchman was missing in Nuremberg and Marschalkowski joined Soufi as one of two individual starters in the field. “Jasper had races in the Dutch E90 Cup this weekend. He had started the season in that series and also wanted to finish it. He would like to drive for us again in Assen. Unfortunately, we were unable to find a suitable second driver for Jan for the Norisring. Before we bring in someone that we are not 100 percent behind as a team, I would rather let Jan drive on his own,” said team principal Karsten Molitor, who sees the extra kilometres for his protégé and LMP3 newcomer Marschalkowski as an investment for the future. “The more kilometres he does, the more he learns.”
Kevin Rohrscheidt: living the LMP3 dream
Kevin Rohrscheidt (31/Stuttgart) and Wolfgang Payr (59/AUT, both Racing Experience) form the only Bronze/Bronze pairing in this season’s Prototype Cup Germany. They are often to be found at the back of the field, and yet they are still having a ball in their LMP3 prototype. “It is a dream for me to drive here, and I am enjoying it,” says Rohrscheidt, who has only been racing since 2018. “Back then, I started out in the BMW 318ti Cup and I have since worked my way up to LMP3.” He and Payr have their own expectations in the Prototype Cup Germany: “We know that we are not going to challenge for victories or podiums; we measure our success by how we are developing.” To keep working on improving, Rohrscheidt must now go in search of a budget. “The first four race weekends had been secured, but we are working hard to be able to contest the rest of the season,” said the driver from Stuttgart.
First outing for prototypes at the Norisring since 1989
This year, Prototypes returned to the Norisring for the first time since 1989, when Nuremberg hosted the final race of the ADAC Sat 1 Supercup. The winner back then was Frank Jelinski, ahead of John Andretti and “John Winter”. Fourth place went to Gianpiero Moretti. Moretti was racing for the Mono-Gebhardt-Racing team, which nowadays lines up in the Prototype Cup Germany as Gebhardt Motorsport. Karl Jennings worked as a mechanic for the victorious team, and the Briton is a member of today’s Gebhardt team. “I have experienced a lot of races at the Norisring. It looks easy with its four corners, but that has fooled generations of racing drivers. It is a unique challenge.” Franz Konrad, now team principal of Konrad Motorsport, was a driver back in 1989, but was forced to retire with an engine issue on his Porsche 962 C. “I always enjoyed driving at the Norisring and always found a drive.”