After the Circuit Paul Ricard and the Circuito de Navarra, it is on another monument of international motorsport that the protagonists of the Ultimate Cup Series will meet again. This weekend (26-27-28 May 2023), the Hockenheimring will host the third round of the fifth anniversary season for the second year running.
Inaugurated in 1932, this German arena is well known and reputed to have hosted many world disciplines, starting with Formula 1. The track is both fast in the section that goes into the forest and winding in the section in the heart of the impressive stadium.
The favourable weather forecast for the whole weekend suggests a thrilling competition for the competitors of the four platforms – Endurance Prototype Challenge, Endurance GT-Touring Challenge, Sprint GT-Touring Challenge and Single Seater – joined for the occasion by the Swiss MaxxFormula championship, in the support category.
Endurance Prototype Challenge
With almost 20 sport-prototypes expected to compete in Germany, the third round of the Endurance Prototype Challenge will once again be a hotly contested event with the LMP3s on one side and the Nova Proto NP02s on the other, not forgetting the CNs.
In the LMP3 category, no less than seven teams will be competing, representing the three leading manufacturers: Ligier, Duqueine and Ginetta. The Italian team TS Corse took its first ever victory last month in Navarra with its Duqueine D08, which was the best result in the championship. Its drivers Ayrton Simmons, once again joined by Canadian Jonathan Woolridge, and Ian Ituarte Aguilera are leading the championship and will be keen to continue their winning ways. However, they will have to contend with the winners of the first race at Le Castellet, Manuel Espirito Santo, George King and Viacheslav Gutak in the #14 Team Virage Ligier JS P320. The French team Zosh Compétition, which is fielding a pair of Ligier JS P320s, will be hoping to unlock its victory record before the middle of the season, but its compatriots from Graff Racing are also back with two Ligier JS P320s, the first of which will be driven by Chinese Haowen Luo, alongside Samir Ben and Loris Kyburz, while the sister car will be entrusted to Vincent Capillaire, who has no fewer than eight Le Mans 24 Hours appearances to his name, Nicolas Chartier and Stephan Rupp. Martin Böhm and Andreas Fojtik are looking for their first podium in the Ginetta G61-LT-P3.
In the NP02s, the nine teams showed a high level of competition with experienced drivers at the wheel, but also with young drivers in the making. The experience of the trio of the #41 DB Autosport car, formed by Mathias Beche, Daniel Bassora and Philippe Yschard, but above all their regularity, enabled them to arrive at Hockenheim in the lead of the category without having reached the top step of the podium. They are ahead of the winners of the previous event, Nicolas Maulini and Jacques Wolff, in the n°51 Racing Spirit of Léman, as well as Nick Adcock and Jonathan Thomas who won at Le Castellet, on behalf of CD Sport. The young Swiss drivers Grégory de Sybourg and Karen Gaillard, entered in the n°11 DIMAB Motorsport by ANS car, had the opportunity to show their speed without having, yet, managed to win.
The French teams DB Autosport and ANS Motorsport will each field two NP02s and will try to win for the first time this season, as will Nerguti Competition and Cogemo, in search of a first class podium.
Note that the traditional CNs, present in the Ultimate Cup Series since the launch of the championship in 2019, will still be present at ANS Motorsport and Wolf Racing France.
The third 4-hour race of the season is scheduled for Sunday 28 May, at 3pm.
Endurance GT-Touring Challenge
The stakes are high for the competitors of the Endurance GT-Touring Challenge in the German arena of the Hockenheimring. The German event marks the halfway point of the season and can already allow the trio of the #1 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo entered by Visiom, of the reigning champions Jean-Paul Pagny, Jean-Bernard Bouvet and David Hallyday, to significantly widen the gap in the scratch and 3A category rankings. With two successes in their possession at the beginning of the 2023 season, the trio will try to continue this successful dynamic, but the task will once again be difficult against the #31 Renault RS01 of AB Sport Auto. The latter’s drivers, Jonathan Cochet and Rémy Kirchdörffer, have not yet had the perfect race to climb onto the top step of the podium. However, the duo arrives in Germany with the firm intention to dethrone the defending champions.
In the Porsche Cup class, the battle rages on with each race between the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup type 992, which are perfectly suited to the task. The category victory achieved in Navarra by the #95 Porsche of Martinet by Alméras put its drivers Joffrey Dorchy, Julien Froment and Mathieu Martins back in the title race against the crew of the #48 Porsche of Seb Lajoux Racing, the #89 Porsche of GP Racing Team and the second car of Martinet by Alméras, driven among others by Pierre Martinet, accompanied by his faithful team-mate Gérard Tremblay, and for the occasion by Arthur Mathieu.
The Vortex are making a clean sweep in the UGT3B category, but XP Racing intends to impose its Ferrari 488 Challenge as soon as possible.
We will also see the BMW M4 GT4 of L’Espace Bienvenue, the Alpine A110 Cup of Chazel Technologie and the Ligier JS2 R of ANS Motorsport.
The 4H Hockenheim GT-Touring Endurance race will take place on Sunday morning, between 9.20am and 1.20pm.
Sprint GT Touring Challenge
The intensity of the sprint format combined with the diversity of the twelve brands present – Alpine, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Ginetta, Lamborghini, Mercedes, Mitjet, Porsche and Renault – make this one of the most coveted. And for good reason, the three races held over the weekend guarantee some magnificent battles, both in the general classification and in the classification of each category.
Scuderia Ravetto and Ruberti (SR&R) is on a roll at the start of the season, as the Italian team is currently leading the overall team standings of the Sprint GT-Touring Challenge. Already the reigning champion, the team co-managed by Manfredi Ravetto and Paolo Ruberti is not hiding its ambitions with three Ferraris entered in the UGT3B category, which will also include a Ferrari 488 Challenge entered by Racing Spirit of Léman.
The UGT3A category will see the arrival of the #29 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the Swiss team G2 Racing AG to join the battle against the #88 Bentley Continental GT3 of Eric Mouez, the undisputed leader of the category. Hockenheim also marks the return of the JRM Racing Team’s Corvette C7 GT3-R, one of the few examples in Europe.
The Lamborghini Super Trofeo of BDR Competition Grupo Prom, two in the UGT3A2 class, will be trying to challenge their UGT3A class mates for the top spots on the scratch podium, whether it be Amaury Bonduel in the #28 or Alfredo Hernandez in the #77.
The UGTC4A class will be a tough one in Germany, with the #17/Rosel Racing by L’Espace Bienvenue BMW M4 GT4, the #32 Audi R8 LMS GT4, the #2 Alpine A110 GT4 and the SpeedCar Ginetta G50 GT4.
The Porsche Cup category will be particularly well represented with the regulars of the championship, Breizh Motorsport and Seb Lajoux Racing. HRT Performance will be on hand for the German event with no less than three Porsche 911 GT3 Cup ‘992’ cars, one of which will be driven by the team’s owner, Holger Harmsen.
The three confrontations (2×25 minutes and 1×50 minutes) will take place on Saturday 27 May.
On the eve of the third of the six races of the Ultimate Cup Series Single Seater Challenge, the hierarchy could not be tighter and more undecided in the overall F3R ranking. After a double success in Navarra last month, Gaspard Le Gallais (CMR) scored precious points which allow him to be ex-aequo with the leader Paul Trojani (Graff Racing), who already counts four successes to his credit this year. On his side, Alban Nerguti (Nerguti Competition) would like to referee this duel at the top, especially as he is looking for a first victory in the discipline.
After taking her first steps in F3R in Spain, Alexandra Hervé will be back at the wheel of the single-seater entered by Formula Motorsport in Germany, for a second spell this season. Jean-Claude Estre’s team will field three other F3Rs, one for the leader of the Ultimate classification (dedicated to gentlemen) Walter Rykart, one for Erwin Creed, and finally a fourth for a second female, Laura Villars.
The duel between Jordan Roupnel (CMR) and Gilles Depierre (Rever’Team) will resume in FR2.0.
Let’s note the presence of two Formula 4 cars which will compete in the Single Seater category.
The first race will take place on Friday 26 May, at the end of the day, while the two others will take place on Saturday afternoon.