Alex Cascatău Grabs Podium on ADAC Prototype Cup Germany Debut
Alex Cascatău made a successful return behind the wheel of an LMP3 prototype as he scored his maiden podium in the ultra-competitive ADAC Prototype Cup Germany that saw a record grid tackle the famous Zandvoort Grand prix course.
Alex Cascatău has been plotting for years to drive an LMP3 car competitively and, out of the blue, he got the chance to rejoin BHK Motorsport for a second P3 outing that yielded unexpectedly good results. This was both Alex's first appearance in the ADAC Prototype Cup Germany as well as his first shot at driving a P3 car in sprint-style races.
Following the Romanian former GT & Prototype Challenge champion's outing this April in the four-hour Endurance Prototype Challenge race at Paul Ricard, he continued to keep in touch with BHK Motorsport and this is how the opportunity to debut in the German prototype series came together. Teamed up with Elia Sperandio, who also drove for BHK in France, they'd battle in a field of almost 20 cars.
"To be honest, Paul Ricard had been very tough on me, and I wasn't planning to race anymore this year. My confidence had taken quite a hit. But then Francesco (ex-ELMS & IndyCar driver Francesco Dracone) called me out of the blue and said "look, there might be an opportunity to race alongside Elia in the ADAC Prototype Cup". I found out on the Monday, four days before the first official session!"
As this championship was part of the support bill for the DTM, the schedule was heavily abridged with the two Free-Practice sessions combining for just 30 minutes of on-track action. It was Elia that first went out behind the wheel of the British squad's No. 35 Ligier JS P320 His run was cut short by a Full-Course Yellow and Cascatău then drove up until the end of the session. The Romanian was about two seconds off the pace and was 11th out of 18 cars.
The second free practice session saw the team move up the leaderboard with Cascatău driving all the way and showing up in ninth. Due to the tight schedule, the two practice sessions were followed by a similarly short, rapid-fire qualifying sessions. Alex went out in the first of them with Elia driving in the second session that determined the grid for Race 2.
As it happened, the bulk of the really fast drivers would drive in Q1 and Cascatău, unwilling to take too many risks, could do no better than 14th as he accepted that there was a lot more in the car.
Sperandio himself drove in the second session against no less than four Bronze-rated drivers and he managed the fifth fastest lap time. Thus, the table was set and the No. 35 car would line up 14th and 5th in the two races against a strong field that featured FIA Gold-rated drivers such as Laurents Hoerr, as well as fast Silver drivers Markus Pommer, and Axcil Jefferies.
Sadly, the first race was marred by a number of caution periods, as well as two red flag stoppages which meant that Alex barely drove half a dozen green laps. A crash quickly after the start saw a car go off course and Cascatău played it safe, going off line into Tarzan and didn't gain any ground.
Following the restart procedure, Cascatău managed to jump past a couple of cars and then the first red flag reared its ugly consequences. The driver switch happened soon after the race got going again and by that time the No. 35 BHK Motorsport Ligier was well inside the Top 10.
The second half of the race didn't go much better but Elia did manage to get up to seventh. Before long, a second incident and another red flag halted the proceedings with 13 minutes left on the clock. Sadly, the race was never restarted but the seven-spot progress from lights to flag cannot be ignored as Alex never wanted to overdo it.
The second race of the weekend was Sperandio make an amazing start and, sticking to the grippier inside line, he overtook Gary Hauser who was fourth driving the No. 15 car for Racing Experience. Elia then made quick work of the third-placed car and managed to retain his podium position up until the pit window. Cascatău rejoined still in third with the No. 15 car hot on its tail, Pommer pushing to make up a two-second gap.
With Cascatău feeling the pressure, he began to push and was fast in the first sector, but lost precious tenths in the slow and technical middle sector. However, benefitting from superior grip through the second-to-last corner, Cascatău could launch himself onto the start/finish straight far enough ahead to not worry about any attacks braking into Tarzan.
As the gap eeved and flowed, Pommer was never more than a few tenths behind the Romanian as the race drew to a close. In the end, despite a few attempts from the German and a few small errors by the former Romanian Endurance Series champion, the No. 35 BHK Motorsport Ligier crossed the finish line third with Sperandio and Cascatău celebrating a thoroughly deserved and slightly unexpected podium finish.
„My main focus has always been to keep it on the island in both races. This opportunity was unexpected and, as such, I didn't want to disappoint the guys, nor my team-mate Elia. In the end, it was amazing that we could focus on setup work as our Ligier performed flawlessly and I hope I get to work with the team again to improve my pace, especially in qualifying. I have to say a big thank you to the entire team: BHK Motorsport, Elia, Francesco and Ezio for all their trust in me.”