Hunter Valley racer Caitlin Wood is half-way through the Competiton102 European GT4 Series, and has taken time out to update us on how things are going.
Reporter: Caitlin Wood | Editor: Zak Caban.
Wood is competing in the Competition102 European GT4 series, driving a KTM-XBOW GT4 with Reiter Engineering, as part of their inaugural Reiter Young Stars Championship (RYS).
A fully funded drive in the GT3 Blancpain Sprint Series with Reiter Engineering in 2017 will be awarded to the best male and female drivers at the end of the five-round series.
There’s a new and unique way in which Reiter Young Stars competitors earn championship points in 2016. To make it as fair as possible for drivers sharing cars, series organisers award points based on the average fastest lap time of each driver, by taking the fastest five laps from each driver throughout the course of a race, and the driver who has the fastest average lap time receiving the points for first place.
Wood is half-way through the season, with the first 3 rounds contested at Monza (Italy) in April, The famed Pau Grand Prix (France) in May, and most recently, the famed Spa-Franchorchamps circuit in Belgium just a fortnight ago.
A 27-car field contested the round, including Wood, who is sharing driving duties with Maximilian Voelker in 2016.
The pair moved from 20th to 13th overall during the 1 hour races.
After the race, Wood commented, “Monza was such an amazing experience. It was my first ever GT race and my first rolling start since karts, which was hard to wrap my head around. Overall, it was a really great weekend. Both Max and myself kept progressing and moving forward over the course of the weekend“.
Practice and qualifying were completed in wet weather conditions. Race 1 was run under lights, while the sun appeared for race 2 on Sunday.
Wood achieved her first top ten in the GT4 field in the Sunday race, by finishing in 9th.
Wood said “It has been such a hectic weekend trying to keep up with all of the different weather conditions, but it was great to finally get a good result on the Sunday. It’s such a crazy street circuit, which requires a lot of commitment, but no room for error.”
With very few clean laps completed in the two free practice sessions as a result of stoppages, Wood was still getting to grips with the circuit as the cars ventured out for Qualifying.
If it wasn’t already challenging enough, a sudden downpour as the lights went green for the 12-minute session soaked the circuit. Wood’s team made the decision, like most of the lane, to change to wets.
Wood would get two opportunities to post a time, but sadly traffic would affect both runs, leaving Voelker and herself in 45th (20th in European GT4) in a 58-car field.
The race went extremely well for all of the challenges thrown their way, Voelker started the car, but was hit from behind on the first lap – fortunately he was able to keep on going, but the incident left the rear of the car a little unstable.
Wood took over driving duties after 30 minutes, for a 1 hour stint, and made good track position in that time, before handing it back to Voelker for the drive home. At that time, they sat tenth in class, and would move up to ninth before the chequered flag was waved, and that was good enough to be the third car home out of the Reiter Young Stars KTM-XBOW’s.
Post-race, Wood said “Spa was such a fun race. I’m still pinching myself that I got to race here! We made good progress in the race. There were a lot of cars out on track, and to keep moving forward every lap was very promising. Now, we just need to nail qualifying and I am sure we can finish up the front!”
With two rounds left in the season, Caitlin is currently leading the Ladies Reiter Young Stars series, meaning that elusive Blancpain GT3 drive in within her reach.
Now there is a mid-year gap until the next round at Hungaroring on the 23-25th September.