Launched this year as part of the GT4 European Series, the Reiter Young Stars cup has enjoyed a successful debut season and has recently been confirmed by Reiter Engineering and KTM to go forward into 2017.
The cup is a junior program like no other, as it focuses on team management and engineers just as much as the drivers.
Each team runs a KTM X-Bow GT4 in the GT4 European Series. They compete for the RYS championship, as well as wins in the GT4 Series.
RYS Team Holinger is one of eight teams competing, and has had a strong season so far, in both RYS and GT4 Series standings.
“The Reiter Young Stars program is a competition between young drivers and students, getting as many people as they can into motorsport,” RYS Team Holinger race engineer Seb Wedgewood told Sportscar365.
At the end of the season, the top male and top female drivers in the RYS standings will win a factory-supported seat in next year’s Blancpain GT Series.
As well as the drivers, the competition is also for the team personnel. Each team is run by a university, with two engineers and one team manager, who are all students.
The most successful engineers and managers also win a contract working freelance next year in the Blancpain GT Series.
In RYS Team Holinger’s case, the students are from the University of Hertfordshire in southern England. The other teams come from Germany, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic and Estonia.
The cup is open to any European university, which can enter through an application process. Students then apply within the university for the team’s three positions, while drivers apply through Reiter Engineering.
“We have two engineering students – that’s myself (pictured above right) and Roberts Ramanis (above left) – and a team manager, Seb Scott,” Wedgewood explained.
“All of the other teams have the same system with a marketing student and two engineers. It’s interesting seeing how the different universities compare.
“We’re the only British university, and there are a lot of the big German universities there, so there’s good competition between us and a lot of banter as well between all the different teams!
“Hertfordshire is a big motorsport university. We were the first Formula Student team in the UK, and we’ve got a long history in motorsport.”
For Wedgewood, one thing that makes RYS so attractive is that it allows students like himself to gain invaluable experience from day one, in contrast to a work placement at another race team.
“Let’s say you’re a student and you want to work in motorsport, if you get a job in a race team, you’ll be doing low-key jobs,” he said.
“You won’t have that much responsibility. The RYS cup really chucks you in at the deep end and you learn by making mistakes.
“I study motorsport engineering, and you get taught all of the theory behind how you set up a race car, but what you don’t get taught in the classroom is what to do in those split-second decisions.
“The RYS cup gives you an absolutely unique experience to learn, develop and become a proper race engineer. There’s nothing else out there that gives you that experience, and that’s why every single student out there should be looking into doing it.”
RYS Team Holinger’s two drivers are Tim Stupple (pictured above) and Lennart Marioneck, in the No. 24 KTM X-Bow GT4. For Stupple, this is his first full season in cars, after previous experience in karting and the Chevrolet Cruze Cup.
“It’s all gone very well,” Stupple told Sportscar365. “They’re all easy to work with and we’ve been really successful [so far].
What makes the RYS cup different is that drivers don’t get points for winning races, but rather for setting fast lap times.
Each race, a driver’s five fastest laps are counted, and the championship winners are the male and female drivers whose lap times were quickest throughout the season.
“In Reiter Young Stars, the [aim] is to get the five fastest laps in each race, and it’s not important which overall position you have because you could be last but with the five fastest laps,” Stupple explained. “In GT4, it’s just about position.”
As there is only one male champion, Stupple is actually competing against his co-driver in the standings. With four rounds left, he is still in reach of the RYS points lead.
“Our next track is Hungaroring and I think that’s our best chance to get a win there. We’ve got three rounds behind us, and experience working together. I’ve been there before in other cars, so I think that’s our best chance.”
In addition to the drivers’ lap times, the team is examined on all sorts of aspects; setup, communication, management, pit stops and more.
Another area is marketing, in which RYS Team Holinger is currently leading the standings. Team manager Seb Scott (pictured above) is responsible for this.
“I oversee various aspects of the team, particularly the organizational side and also the marketing and social media,” he explained to Sportscar365.
“We have a slight advantage in that I’m a motorsport engineering student too, but oddly I’m carving a career as a journalist so I’m able to help and support the engineers when needed.
“We’ve all come to the conclusion on the team that engineering is so tight that the marketing points will be the deciding factor so it’s really key to understand your target market.
“We’re open to any ideas and have tried some things that have worked and some that haven’t. One thing we have noticed is that people love video! They really can’t get enough of them!”
The car itself has been very popular amongst the RYS teams, and Wedgewood says it’s down to the lightweight design.
“Through the corners it’s absolutely unbelievable,” he said. “The Balance of Performance can make it a bit tricky at times, because we get limited engine RPM.
“On the faster tracks, we really struggle, but as soon as we get to a corner, we just destroy the competition. It’s a brilliant car.
“KTM has been brilliant in terms of how they’re supporting the championship, [and] Reiter has been absolutely amazing in supporting us.
“They understand that we’re new to this and we’re going to make mistakes, and we’re not going to be as great as them, but I think every race they can see us improving and they respect that.”
As a result of its popularity, RYS has been confirmed for next year, something that Wedgewood is pleased about.
“It’s a really amazing program and one that will hopefully be replicated by other companies and continue long into the future.”