This weekend the eagerly awaited Prototype Cup will hold its first race at Snetterton. The series officially begins in 2017 – with dates yet to be confirmed – but this event is a shakedown for sponsors and drivers alike to run a full race weekend.
The Prototype Cup will be for ACO-homologated LMP3 cars; all cars are neutral in performance. The way in which this series works is, the drivers will be in pairs, one will be bronze/amateur rated driver with limited racing experience and will be accompanied by another driver of any rating or grade. The series is specifically targeted at drivers and teams who aspire to compete in the WEC or other international sports car championships, with the ultimate goal to compete at Le Mans.
There will be two types car available in the British Prototype Cup, but the LMP3 variant will be first choice for most of field and the star of the show.
The LMP3 is a modern, simple, safe car but has the looks and performance to stand up with its LMP2 and LMP1 counterparts. It is the same width as the other LMP cars but it is about 15cm shorter, in terms of performance it is no slouch, it perfectly fits in-between LMP2 and LMGTE, with the pace advantage set to be around two seconds compared to its LMGTE counterparts.
On the engine side, Nissan are the sole engine suppliers to the formula, all cars will have identical normally aspirated V8 engines producing 420 horsepower. The engines electrics and management systems will be provided by Magneti Marelli with X-Trac providing the gearboxes. The powertrain will be sold as a complete package to the teams by Oreca. The engines must last 10,000km without repair or maintenance. A certain amount of parts for the powertrain will be imposed. The cost for the cars in whole, including the powertrain, will be €206,000.
The timing of the Prototype Cup is perfect. The impressive rise in demand for the LMP3 race series’ over the last 18 months has shown that the car is perfect for entry level prototype racing. The stated aim of the LMP3 formula is to ‘enable teams, drivers and constructors to learn the specific aspects of endurance racing before moving up to the top level.’ Every driver, professional or amateur, looks to get into sports car racing has the dream in racing in the WEC or competing at the famous Le Mans 24 Hours, and the British Prototype Cup series with the LMP3 cars is the perfect gateway to the pinnacle of endurance racing.
High profile prototype racing has been missing from the UK racing calendar for quite a while now. But, it is back, and with the demand and intentions it is set to be highly successful, we’ll have to wait for the inaugural race at Silverstone to find out.
(image: United Autosports)