LE MANS OR­GAN­ISER ACO BACKS NEW BRI­TISH LMP3 CAT­E­GORY Pro­to­type Cup handed LMP3 ti­tle and sub­stan­tial £40,000 prize fund for maiden sea­son

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey, LAT By Rob Lad­brook

The nascent Pro­to­type Cup se­ries will be re­banded as the LMP3 Cup Cham­pi­onship ahead of its de­but sea­son this year, and will boast a £40,000 prize fund af­ter gain­ing sup­port from the Au­to­mo­bile Club de l’ouest.

Le Mans 24 Hours or­gan­iser and LMP3 reg­u­la­tor, the ACO, has agreed to en­dorse the UK class, al­low­ing the use of the LMP3 ti­tle and adding a sub­stan­tial prize fund.

The ACO will of­fer the even­tual cham­pion a fully paid-up pack­age of en­try fees for the full six-round Le Mans Cup con­test in 2018, in­clud­ing free en­try into the Road to Le Mans event that sup­ports the 24 Hours in June. The pack­age is worth around £40,000.

The LMP3 Cup Cham­pi­onship (lat­terly the Pro­to­type Cup) has been founded by GT Cup Cham­pi­onship or­gan­iser Bute Motorsport and op­er­ates for ho­molo­gated LMP3 ma­chines from the six des­ig­nated con­struc­tors – Ligier (On­roak Au­to­mo­tive), Ginetta, Ri­ley Tech­nolo­gies, Adess AG, Dome and class new­comer Norma.

“It is very grat­i­fy­ing to see that the LMP3 for­mula de­vel­oped by the ACO has grown so fast,” said Vin­cent Beaumes­nil, ACO sport­ing direc­tor. “It now has a global foot­print and the ad­di­tion of a UK cham­pi­onship will only help to spread that wider.

“We have been in dis­cus­sions with the or­gan­is­ers at Bute Motorsport for some time and are very happy that they will de­velop the cham­pi­onship to its fullest po­ten­tial.”

Bute Motorsport’s direc­tor Han­nah Wil­son added: “This is a fan­tas­tic devel­op­ment for the cham­pi­onship. We have re­ceived good in­ter­est from teams and driv­ers alike so things are shap­ing up nicely. Hav­ing the sup­port of the ACO is a fan­tas­tic en­dorse­ment for Bute and how we do busi­ness and will hope­fully help us take the LMP3 Cup Cham­pi­onship to the next level.”

The se­ries will con­tinue to run with Motorsport Vi­sion Racing and will hold six rounds this year – five at UK tracks and one at Spa-fran­cor­champs. A pi­lot race at Snet­ter­ton last year at­tracted eight cars. Top teams in­clud­ing United Au­tosports, Dou­glas Motorsport, Graff Racing, Tock­with and the new Mectech/ RML part­ner­ship are all set to run cars.

Bold state­ments aren’t re­ally my thing, but I’ll make an ex­cep­tion on this oc­ca­sion; Enaam Ahmed should win the BRDC Bri­tish F3 Cham­pi­onship this year. No, scratch that – he must win it.

That might seem par­tic­u­larly ex­act­ing, es­pe­cially given the 2017 grid is still some way from be­ing filled, but it’s the sort of tar­get Ahmed needs to be set­ting him­self if he’s to re­ally kick on in his ca­reer.

Head to his web­site, and one of the main straplines you’ll see is “the kart­ing world cham­pion tipped to be the next Lewis Hamil­ton”. Of course, that’s no guar­an­tee of fu­ture suc­cess at the top of the chain, but it was clear a cou­ple of years ago that Ahmed had some tal­ent in his pocket when he be­came the youngest driver to win the World and Euro­pean KF3 ju­nior kart­ing ti­tles in 2014.

His ca­reer in cars since then has been solid, if un­spec­tac­u­lar – though that phras­ing is prob­a­bly a bit un­fair when you con­sider that the ma­jor­ity of the fron­trun­ners he’s com­peted with for the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons ( in MSA For­mula and Bri­tish F3) had pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence of racing cars.

Fifth last year in Bri­tish F3 with Dou­glas Motorsport marked a de­cent re­turn for the teenager, but he did lead the cham­pi­onship af­ter the open­ing round be­fore tail­ing off. His haul from that first week­end was 81 points, but his next best through­out the year was 20 shy of that fig­ure and his aver­age across the seven rounds un­til the end of the sea­son was just 38 (a fig­ure skewed slightly by the can­cel­la­tion of the third race at Sil­ver­stone).

Con­sis­tency, then, is an as­pect of his driv­ing that Ahmed needs to work on – but one that he’s aware needs im­prov­ing.

“Last year, I might have had the speed to win the cham­pi­onship, but maybe not the con­sis­tency,” he says. “But I have a good op­por­tu­nity this sea­son with Carlin to right that wrong.”

And therein lies the key to why he has to be favourite this sea­son: Carlin.

Ahmed switched to the crack ju­nior sin­gle-seater squad for the Au­tumn Tro­phy and shone bright­est in a cast of promis­ing stars to claim the ti­tle ahead of the likes of Ger­man F4 cham­pion Joey Maw­son. De­spite some un­cer­tainty over the win­ter, he now has the chance to repli­cate that suc­cess in the full cham­pi­onship this year af­ter his deal to join Carlin.

It’s easy to for­get that Ahmed is still just 16 (he turns 17 next month), but he’s cer­tainly not over­awed by the pres­sure that comes with be­ing a ti­tle favourite three months be­fore the start of the sea­son, and with­out most of his com­peti­tors hav­ing been an­nounced. There’s no rea­son for him not to be able to repli­cate the form he showed to win the Au­tumn Tro­phy, and if he can do so Ahmed will be one of the hottest prop­er­ties of 2017.

Beaumes­nil backs P3 Pro­to­type Cup is gain­ing mo­men­tum

Teenager Ahmed has al­ready tasted suc­cess

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