Caitlin Wood and Marko Helistekangas are set to move to the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, joined by Tomas Enge in the Lamborghini Reiter Gallardo R-EX.
Sportscar365 has learned that reigning Reiter Young Stars champions Wood and Helistekangas will make the switch to the Endurance Cup after competing in the first two Sprint Cup rounds.
They will be joined by long-time Reiter driver Enge, with the trio entering the Paul Ricard and Barcelona rounds. An entry in the Total 24 Hours of Spa is not planned, however.
This comes after a challenging start to the Sprint Cup season for the GT3 debutants, who were forced to withdraw from the Brands Hatch round earlier this month following a heavy shunt during Free Practice 2.
“The idea of Reiter Young Stars is getting young people up into GT3,” founder and team owner Hans Reiter told Sportscar365.
“To be honest, the level in Sprint is too high, and if you have the smallest crash, the weekend is over.
“We think that the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup is more beneficial for the young drivers and especially as they will drive with Tomas Enge, who will be able to teach them better.
“We see potentially better results in Endurance than in Sprint.”
Wood and Helistekangas have been running in the Silver Cup in the Sprint rounds, but being joined by Platinum-rated Enge moves them up to the Pro Cup class for the Endurance races.
Forty-year-old Enge has considerable experience in the Reiter-built Lamborghini, having raced it in several GT series including Blancpain GT, Pirelli World Challenge and International GT Open over the past few seasons.
“I’m going to compete in the GT Open race next weekend at Spa, so that will be my return to GT3 racing,” Enge told Sportscar365.
“Then I’ll do the Blancpain Endurance races at Paul Ricard and Barcelona with the Reiter Young Stars winners from 2016.
“I’m there to give them some coaching and help them to get better and closer to the top guys.
“They have limited experience with the GT3 cars and new circuits, and it’s not easy, so this is why I’m competing with them.”
Reiter explained that the reason to skip Spa and focus on Paul Ricard and Barcelona was financial.
“We have a certain budget for the Young Stars drivers, which covers either five races in Sprint, or four races – except the 24 Hours of Spa – in Endurance,” he said.
“We agreed on a budget with the sponsors and it wouldn’t cover Spa.”
A decision on whether this season’s Reiter Young Stars winners will compete in the 2018 Sprint Cup or Endurance Cup has not yet been made, he added.
“We have to discuss it with them,” he said. “I guess it makes sense [to enter the Sprint Cup next season], but we’ll see where we end up.”
The six-hour race at Paul Ricard will take place on June 24.