The innovative Reiter Young Stars championship is set for its second season in the GT4 European Series this year, and Sportscar365 caught up with Reiter works driver Naomi Schiff to get an insight into the preparations for the cup’s second season.
In addition to her experience as a factory driver for Reiter Engineering, Schiff has been heavily involved in sales, finding and recruiting entrants, and organization for Reiter Young Stars.
How would you explain the Reiter Young Stars format, and what is its appeal?
“It is a concept not like any other racing championship available in motorsports at the moment. We really try to push the careers of young people, and that’s where the idea initially came from.
“We help young drivers and try to push them forwards into the Blancpain [GT Series] Sprint Cup and then there are young students who get great experience, which is obviously a huge bonus for them.
“They can also win [the opportunity] to work in the Blancpain GT Series with our winning drivers.”
How did the program’s inaugural season go?
“I think it was really successful. We waited really long to announce the concept because we were quite worried that somebody might steal the idea and run away with it, so we waited until the last minute.
“It was really challenging for us to put together this concept, create a rulebook, and find people. There are so many things that go behind it that you wouldn’t really think about. We really set the bar high for ourselves to achieve this.
“We had 16 drivers and eight cars. The sponsors are partners who buy the cars from us and then support the drivers a little bit, which is also a great networking possibility for the drivers.
“We just want to reach more people and more young drivers with the concept to [show] the possibility that there is with Reiter Young Stars.”
Are there any major changes planned for RYS this season?
“There is one quite big change. Last year we ran it with a girls’ championship and a boys’ championship for the drivers. That was two separate championships, and the fastest girl would win the seat for Blancpain, and the fastest guy as well.
“Unfortunately up until now we have really struggled to find girls with the budget who were interested to do the championship this year, so we have decided to cut that out completely and make it the two best drivers.
“We need to fill 16 seats, so it’s definitely unfortunate that we don’t have the girls’ championship this season but maybe if we have more interest from girls throughout the season we can get them for next year and bring back that concept.
“That’s a big change because the young guys have even more of a chance to win. Otherwise, it is more or less pretty much the same [as last season].”
How much interest have you had so far from prospective entrants?
“I’ve already got a lot of interest from universities, and I think [the concept] came across really well to lots of young students. There’s nothing for them to invest, so it’s quite a lot easier to get them onboard.
“I’ve managed to get a lot of universities interested from all over Europe. All the universities [from last year] are allowed to apply again, but just not with the same students because obviously that would give them an unfair advantage.
“Fifty percent of the universities from last year applied again this year.”
Have any of last year’s student engineers and team bosses gone onto other things since?
“I’ve heard from some of them that they are going to work for other teams. Obviously they still have a lot to learn, but we’ve also offered some of them who did really well last season to work with us, because we have a really big program this season.
“We do need a lot of hands, so the ones we saw a lot of potential in last year, we’ve offered them the chance to work for us at some of the other events. Even the ones who haven’t won have definitely had a chance.”
The prize for the winning drivers is a seat in the Blancpain GT Series in a Reiter Lamborghini. How do you expect the car to perform this season?
“It’s a Reiter Gallardo R-EX. We’ve made a few upgrades each year. Obviously the Gallardo itself is an older model but the car is completely up-to-spec with the cars for this year, so it should be no problem.”
Has the relationship working with the GT4 European Series gone well?
“It’s going good. We have a really good cooperation with them so it works really well. I think for the drivers it’s also great to be able to run in not only the Reiter Young Stars championship but simultaneously in the GT4 European Series.
“That’s great for them, and last season one of our cars was vice-champion in the GT4 Series, so that’s a totally added bonus. The drivers get to have two championships for the price of one to add to their CV.
“It definitely works well that we work with them and not just in our own championship.”