Positive weekend for Henning, Kahler and Kraav in BMW M2 Cup
After a positive weekend for the three young female drivers of the BMW M2 Cup, Claudia Henning collected her best results of the season so far with two top ten finishes at Lausitzring. Carmen Kraav also scored the highest amount of points to date in a single weekend, while Luisa Kahler had two very solid races, consistently bringing the car home on the doorsteps of the top ten.
The three female drivers contesting the 2023 BMW M2 Cup season enjoyed a positive weekend at Lausitzring, Germany, where the series contested its fourth double-header of the season. Since its inception, the one-make series has proven to be a great platform for young drivers aiming to move up the ranks of touring cars and eventually GT racing; among them, several talented female racers have chosen the Project1-promoted championship to develop their recacraft over the past three years. With a format specifically designed to help driver development and focused on equality of equipment, the BMW M2 Cup's calendar on the DTM package is just as exciting, and maximises the drivers' exposure on some of the most popular German racetracks. Claudia Henning, Luisa Kahler and Carmen Kraav are among the youngsters collecting crucial experience in this year's championship - and all of them have already claimed top ten finishes. Henning, 19, kicked-off her campaign with a remarkable ninth place at Oschersleben, repeating the performance at Norisring. A highly unfortunate weekend at the Nürburgring resulted in two DNFs and a blank slot in the points' table, but it was redemption time at Lausitzring, as she enjoyed her best weekend to date, showing great pace throughout the sessions. 17 year old Estonian racer Carmen Kraav graduated to BMW M2 Cup after racing in high level international karting competitions, as well as the Baltic Touring Car Championship in her first car racing outings in a BMW 325. Kraav has often shown great speed and racecraft, but has also been unlucky on a few occasions that prevented her from fully showcasing her potential. Nevertheless, she first finished in the top-10 at Nürburgring, after a strong race 1 in very challenging weather conditions. At her car racing debut, Luisa Kahler, also 17, has been steadily improving after each round. In the first half of the championship, consistency has been Kahler's biggest asset, having completed all races, often moving up the order and very rarely making mistakes. Her breakthrough performance came at Norisring, when Luisa scored a brilliant eighth place finish in race 1. From the rain of Nürburgring to the heat of Lausitzring, the drivers had to endure new challenges at the fourth round of the season, which started with a very encouraging P9 in practice for Henning, who immediately proved to belong to the top ten. Her top form continued into qualifying, where she ran in the top six and eventually qualified a season's high seventh. Despite feeling ill throughout Saturday, Luisa Kahler managed to set a 1:33.437 that qualified her #13 machine in P12 - with the whole field separated by tenths and even hundredths of a second. Kraav had a challenging first day at Lausitzring, as was 13th fastest, albeit making a big improvement from practice.
Jan Matyas had claimed pole position, one tenth ahead of Leyton Fourie - who managed to get ahead at the start of race 1 when Denny Berndt and Matyas made contact, with the latter picking up front suspension damage. Claudia Henning had a superb start and moved into sixth place, with Kraav also charging up the field and gaining 3 places over the first lap of the race. Kraav battled with Luca Link and temporarily claimed ninth, then defended from Wenisch for the top ten. Rosam and Horstem made contact on lap 7 in the fight for second place, but Horsten couldn't make a move stick. Henning continued a very solid race in seventh place, closely following Senna van Soelen and Gianni van de Craats, in the three-car train fighting for the top five. Kraav was on course to score her second top ten of the season, but lost one place on lap 11 when Aaron Wenisch eventually went past at turn 1. Leyton Fourie, meanwhile, had checked out and took a commanding victory in race 1, preceding Horsten and Rosam, after the former found a gap after a two-lap battle that saw several position changes for second, with also Colin Boninghausen getting involved. Claudia Henning drove to her personal best result of the season so far with a highly positive seventh place, scoring a good amount of points for the championship. Carmen Kraav made her way through the pack at the start and recovered from a difficult qualifying to finish P11. Luisa Kahler had another very solid race, logging good laps and running trouble-free in the positions just outside the top-10. Her pace came alive in the final stages of the race and the young racer set the fourth fastest time of the race on the final lap, crossing the finish line in P12, just 1.4 seconds behind Kraav. This was a particularly notable result after the 17-year-old German had been feeling unwell but still fought until the very end of the race. "Even though it is a solid result, I’m a bit disappointed", she wrote. "It was a hard race and not easy to keep up the pace. I felt a bit sick the whole day but giving up is no option. I drove my race and learned a lot."
Henning had another chance to score big points in race 2, lining up again in P7; Kahler followed in P11, ahead of Kraav in P14. At lights out, Fourie kept Matyas at bay, as the latter was under pressure from Bonighausen. From seventh, Henning lost two positions on the first lap - then was overtaken by van de Craats. Carmen Kraav, on the other hand, had a strong start and moved up to 12th, passing Wenisch and Kahler. After yet another very consistent race on Saturday, Luisa was soon back up to speed and, after the very first laps, her pace was faster than the cars ahead: the young racer would pass Wenisch for P13. Link and van de Craats banged wheels while battling for eighth; Henning joined the duo in the attempt to pick up the pieces. Claudia tried to make a move at turn 1, but had to back off. When Henning and van de Craats had a little contact, she then had to defend also from Kraav, who had meanwhile passed McAfee for 11th. Henning and Kraav were now on a mission - and were joined by Luisa Kahler, who cleared McAfee once he clipped the wall with 9 minutes to go. In the closing stages, Kahler started to put pressure on Kraav, but the Estonian defended well. While Fourie was looking strong for another win, he had to fend off Matyas, who caught up the leader on the penultimate lap and took the lead at turn 1. Fourie, though, fought back after a spectacular battle to sweep the weekend. Claudia Henning couldn't eventually find a way past van de Craats and Link, but still completed a brilliant weekend in P10, claiming her fourth top ten of the season. "I had a very good start in race 2, but then there was a lot of turmoil and I didn't get into the inside of the corner, so I fell back to 10th place", she explained. "This weekend I learned a lot and I'm looking forward to Sachsenring." After a great recovery from a difficult start of the weekend, Carmen Kraav held off the attacks of Luisa Kahler to finish both races in eleventh position. The young Estonian again showed good speed and great overtaking skills. "Lausitzring was a challenge for me, also the season as a whole, due to the series being very competitive on equal machinery", Kraav told us. "My qualifying results didn’t meet my expectations, but I took the most out of the races and I’m satisfied with the progress I made", she added. "I’m happy to have noticed the improvements I have made in the series and I’m looking up to fighting my way to the top soon." Luisa Kahler finished 0.192 seconds behind, rounding out an overall positive weekend at the Lausitzring where she consistently brought the car home on the doorsteps of the top ten. With 17 points scored last weekend, Claudia Henning has now moved into P11 in the championship standings. Carmen Kraav also conquered the highest amount of points to date in a single weekend, collecting 13 points at Lausitzring. She now sits 15th in the standings, 4.5 points behind Kahler. They will all aim to carry momentum into Sachsenring, for the penultimate round of the season, on 8-10 September.