A few other things we noticed at races five and six of this season’s Prototype Cup Germany in Zandvoort, Netherlands.
Jasper Stiksma surprises everyone
Racing alongside Jan Marschalkowski (20/Inning am Ammersee), Dutchman Jasper Stiksma (22, both MRS GT-Racing) was the surprise winner of Saturday’s race. The 22-year-old arrived in the Prototype Cup Germany via the E90 Cup in the Netherlands. “At the start of the season, I considered what could be my next step and did a short LMP3 test with Reiter. Unfortunately, we were not able to agree on a cooperation for this season.” However, Stiksma refused to give up and contacted MRS GT-Racing. “We were looking for a driver, and he got in touch. Despite not having a huge amount of experience, he has done a good job so far,” said team principal Karsten Molitor on the Friday evening. One day later, Stiksma more than backed up that comment.
Absolute newcomers from Italy
MMi Motorsport made its Prototype Cup Germany debut in Zandvoort. However, the Italians were not just newcomers to the German LMP3 series, but were contesting their very first LMP3 race ever. “We were racing in the BOSS GP series and wanted to shift our focus to a series with a greater emphasis on developing young drivers. The LMP scene is booming at the moment and LMP3 is a very good entry-level class for talented youngsters,” explained team principal Valentino Sacilotto. At his side he has Enzo Castorino, who has been working as an engineer in Formula 1 and Formula 2 for 35 years. “We are friends and I am happy to help him.” Both were immediately impressed by the Prototype Cup Germany. “This is a professional environment, but the atmosphere is also a friendly one. That is how it used to be, and how it should be,” said Castorino.
MMi Motorsport’s LMP3 adventure did not get off to a particularly positive start: Suleiman Zanfari (17/MAR) rolled to a stop on the formation lap ahead of race one. He gave it another shot in the race, but was forced to retire. “We had an issue with the engine,” said team principal Valentino Sacilotto. On Sunday, Enzo Scionti (18/USA) and Zanfari lined up in a spare car. After deciding to race in LMP3, MMi had ordered two Ligier, and had both cars in Zandvoort. That level of commitment was rewarded, as the American/Moroccan pairing went on to finish ninth.
Maximum attack for Pedro Perino
Pedro Perino (18/PRT, DKR Engineering) came from the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) to the Prototype Cup Germany. “I like the fact that the races here are sprints. That means maximum attack from start to finish and no tactical biding one’s time, as is possible in endurance racing, for example.” Perino also has Formula experience. “However, you need a damned large amount of money to make any progress there. Even in Formula 4, the budget the teams are asking for is crazy.” By making an early switch to LMP3 racing, the 18-year-old Portuguese driver is hoping to benefit from the current prototype boom. “It would be great to be a works driver at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
Experienced duo at AF2 Motorsport
Wolfgang Kaufmann (59/Molsberg) and Robert Doyle (64/USA) were duo behind the wheel for the AF2 Motorsport team, which was making its Prototype Cup Germany debut in Zandvoort. Kaufmann, who has primarily been involved in historical motorsport for many years, took the plunge and moved back to modern racing cars. He started on his own on Sunday, as team-mate Doyle had to leave early due to an emergency. Together with the American, Kaufmann came home 14th on Saturday. One day later, alone at the wheel, the German finished twelfth, despite a drive-through penalty for an infringement during the pit stop. “Everything was new to us drivers and the team, so it was not an easy weekend. Having said that, we did manage to improve over the course of the three days,” said Kaufmann.
First for Ligier
The win for Marschalkowski / Stiksma in the Saturday race was the first Ligier victory of the 2023 Prototype Cup Germany. Prior to this, only pairings in a Duqueine had occupied the top step of the podium: twice Julien Apothéloz (22/CHE) / Oscar Tunjo (27/COL, both van ommen racing by DataLab), and one win each to Markus Pommer (32/Untereisesheim) / Gary Hauser (31/LUX, both Racing Experience) and Valentino Catalano 17/Westheim) / Robin Rogalski (22/POL, both DKR Engineering). Coming into Zandvoort, the best result for a Ligier racer came courtesy of Max van der Snel (19/NLD) and Mark van der Snel (52/NLD, both More Motorsport by Reiter), who finished fifth in Oschersleben.
A busy weekend at Reiter
Dutchmen Max and Mark van der Snel had definitely envisaged their home event playing out rather differently. The early signs were good for Max, who started in the first heat, as he was on course for the podium. However, shortly before the mandatory pit stop, a transmission bell housing cracked, which also took out the starter. That meant Mark van der Snel was unable to do his stint, as the number 99 Ligier had to be parked up in the garage. This resulted in a full night shift for the team. Only the following morning was the car finally ready for action in the second qualifying session. Mark van der Snel then skidded into the crash barriers during qualifying, giving his mechanics yet more work. However, there was to be a happy ending: the father/son combination crossed the finish line eighth in race two. That allowed Mark van der Snel to regain the lead in the Trophy competition, which he had surrendered to Wolfgang Payr (59/AUT) / Kevin Rohrscheidt (31/Stuttgart, both Racing Experience) on the Saturday.
Rapid Trophy drivers and Juniors
Matthias Lüthen (42/Hamburg, Koiranen Kemppi Motorsport) was once again the best of the Trophy drivers in Zandvoort. He and team-mate Laurents Hörr (25/Gerlingen) came within touching distance of a podium in race one, but had to settle for fourth place in the end. In the second race, Lüthen / Hörr came home sixth. The top Juniors in the field were the race winners. In the opening race, a shock win for Jan Marschalkowski and Jasper Stiksma also made them the best-placed Juniors. In race two, the victorious Xavier Lloveras (23/ESP, van ommen racing by DataLab) was consequently also the number one Junior. Sitting pretty at the top of the Juniors table are Valentino Catalano and Robin Rogalski, followed by Max van der Snel and Julien Apothéloz. In the Team competition, van omen racing by DataLab occupies the top spot at the halfway point of the season.