Reiter Engineering’s female quartet have successfully completed the 24 Hours of Dubai in their first 24H Series event. The team made up of Caitlin Wood, Naomi Schiff, Anna Rathe and Marylin Neiderhauser logged a total of 336 laps at the Dubai Autodrome in their KTM X-BOW GT4 machine. Their endurance debut as a quartet wasn’t without a fair share of problems however, with two sizeable repairs for the team to carry out during the night. Nonetheless, the team showed an incredible fighting spirit to complete the event and gain valuable experience, in addition to setting the second fastest lap in class.
Despite the quartet forming to compete in the prestigious race, not all of them were unfamiliar to endurance racing. Caitlin Wood, Naomi Schiff and Anna Rathe had all competed in the GT4 European Series, but had not faced an endurance race quite on the scale of the 24 Hours of Dubai. Marylin Niederhauser on the other hand, is extremely new to GT racing having spent the previous two seasons competing in the ADAC F4 championship, most recently driving for Rennsport Rossler. Being the first female team to compete in the 24 Hours of Dubai, the quartet was confident of a good result in the highly competitive GT4 Class.
The 24 hours of Dubai has become one of the most prestigious endurance events on the calendar in recent years with 92 cars from over 15 different manufacturers taking the green flag in 2017. With multiple classes ranging from GT3 through to the A2 Class featuring Renault Clio’s, the event caters for drivers of all abilities and aspirations. The all-female line-up competed for German team Reiter Engineering in the GT4 Class, driving a KTM X-Bow. The car was familiar to Caitlin Wood, Naomi Schiff and Anna Rathe who had experience driving the machine in 2016, with Marylin Niederhauser a newcomer to the car having spent the prior season driving in the ADAC F4 championship, being one of four females to contest the single seater series.
With the majority of the team having knowledge of the car, the practice sessions helped the girls to learn a technical track which was new to them. Featuring a mixture of low and high speed corners, with several heavy breaking zones, the Dubai Autodrome provides a tough test for both car and driver. Times were competitive during the practice sessions and it appeared that the Reiter Engineering team could compete for a top-10 starting spot come qualifying. Having set the pace during practice, Caitlin Wood was chosen to qualify the car and did a superb job by lining up eighth out of a strong eighteen car field, featuring regional series champions and a range of different manufactures, including Porsche and Ginetta.
Following a fantastic qualifying effort of eighth the previous day, Aussie Caitlin Wood was given the daunting prospect of driving the opening stint of the with 91 other cars on track to contend with. Making excellent progress during her time in the car, Caitlin drove up to fourth place before handing the car over to Anna Rathe as the sun began to set. Anna drove a superb stint before utilising a Code 60 period to hand over to Swiss driver Marylin Niederhauser. Marylin’s lap times were extremely competitive early in her stint before she was caught up in an incident which led to a three-hour hiatus from the race. All four drivers had completed a stint each after the car returned on track as Naomi Schiff got behind the wheel, before once again handing over to Niederhauser. Unfortunately, an incident on track caused more damage to the car but the Reiter Engineering team refused to give up. The quartet completed further stints each in the morning with Schiff bringing the car home after completing 336 laps. Despite the team not getting the finish they hoped for, there were many positives to take away including setting the second fastest lap in class with Caitlin Wood on-board.
Throughout the event, all four drivers showed they have the talent to forge a successful career in GT racing, with the youngest driver on the team, Caitlin Wood, especially impressing. Caitlin will be progressing through the ranks at Reiter Engineering to compete in the Blancpain Sprint Series during the 2017 season and is relishing the chance to compete in the more powerful GT3 machinery. That will be the ultimate aim for Naomi Schiff and Marylin Niedhauser in the near future with the young drivers having the potential to compete for strong results in the near future. Anna Rathe has already had a taste of GT3, most notably while competing in tough conditions at Spa last year and the Norwegian driver will be aiming for another successful season. The quartet may return to compete in further 24H Series events, with a second shot at the 24 Hours of Dubai next season looking a likely prospect.