February 7, 2020
The "Girls Only" by WS Racing will once again field the innovative fully-female squad in the newly branded Nürburgring Endurance Series, thanks to the Giti Tire support.
2019 saw a big trend on the rise in international motorsport: women were finally on the centre stage of a men-dominated sport and female drivers made headlines in various championships all over the world.
Several endurance-racing teams launched full female line-ups, with notable examples up until the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But one team took it to the next level and made the extra step: WS Racing brought to the Nürburgring Nordschleife a 100% female squad, which included drivers, mechanics, engineers and management.
The "Girls Only" project was indeed one of the highlights of the 2019 racing season and is set to make its racetrack return this year, as the Giti Tire supported team will enter the Nürburgring Endurance Series (formerly known as the VLN) with its talented women both behind the wheel and behind the pitwall.
Racing with an eye-catching bright yellow and black VW Golf VII GTI TCR, Carrie Schreiner, Jasmin Preisig and Ronja Assmann entered the competitive VLN championship.
21-year old Schreiner, also racing in the high-profile German championship ADAC GT Masters and one of the most promising upcoming female talents, competed in six VLN events, as well as the legendary ADAC 24 Hours of the Nürburgring with her colleagues. She then shared the Giti Tire car with French Célia Martin and Austrian Laura Kraihamer in the closing rounds of the championship.
The team notably claimed a remarkable victory in the last VLN round, together with three second places and a fifth place, while one race was called off due to the adverse weather conditions that brought snow on the 26-km long most famous racetrack in the world.
The "Giti Angels" showed consistently highly-competitive pace and performed well throughout the season, proving race-winning potential at each round. Only minor technical hiccups prevented more class victories, as the VW Golf TCR car had to undergo an electrical reset in one occasion and suffered a broken wheel bearing in another, which resulted in the fifth place finish.
One of the season highlights was certainly the biggest endurance race in Germany: the ADAC 24 Hours at the Nordschleife. Starting with the 24H qualification race, the "Girls Only" team conquered a solid P3, which established Schreiner, Preisig and Assmann as potential pace-setters. The hype for the "Giti Angels" was further increased by their qualifying performances, as they completed the sessions in first and second place.
But the motorsport gods often have different plans in mind and, following a good start, on the third lap of the world-renowned race, a screw hit the water radiator of the #89 VW Golf, causing an engine failure.
Thirty minutes into a 24 hours race, the technical crew had to cope with a potentially race-ending damage. And it was precisely at this point that the Giti Tire "Girls Only" team showed its spirit: the tireless women worked flat out all night and, after 13 hours of uninterrupted effort, they managed to rebuild the car, changed the engine, the gearbox and fixed an electrical problem caused by the overheating engine.
Among the cheers of the 230,000 spectators, the ladies were back out on track. While the victory was out of contention, the "Giti Angels" definitely won the public support, which welcomed the sight of the #89 VW Golf with a standing ovation.
Schreiner, Preisig and Assmann then alternated on the driver seat for more than 50 laps with no further issue and lapped on the front-runners' pace.
They crossed the finish line but were not classified for the 13-hours gap to the lead car.
Nonetheless, it was an emotional finish for all the women involved, both drivers and technical crews: their achievement was labelled "The Wonder of the Ring".
"All hearts were with the Girls." - commented team chief of Giti Tire Motorsport by WS Racing Thorsten Willems. "You can imagine, everyone was crying when they finished the race and saw the chequered flag."
After the June classic race, Swiss racer Jasmin Preisig was signed to the Volkswagen factory team Max Kruse Racing, proving how the "Girls Only" team had become an important platform and provided the ladies with valuable opportunities.
As Ronja Assmann pursued a GT4 program, Austrian star Laura Kraihamer joined the team for the fourth round of the VLN series. Despite it being Kraihamer's very first race in a front-wheel drive car, she drove to second place alongside Schreiner.
"Ending my first race in a front-wheel drive car with P2 in class, what a cool experience!" - she commented. "Enjoyed every second, learned loads and happy with the progress."
"Thanks to Carrie Schreiner for being an amazing teammate - best support and great fun! Thanks to the girls from "Girls Only" for the warm welcome and loads of laughs. Last but not least - thanks WS Racing and Giti Tire for trusting me to drive their car." - added Kraihamer about her first experience with the team.
For the eighth and ninth rounds, it was then Célia Martin to take turns behind the wheel with Schreiner, as the pair collected another second place and, ultimately, the long-awaited victory in the last race of the season.
Martin started her driving shift after eight laps and moved up to second place after a very solid stint. Carrie Schreiner then chased the leading car and, one fastest lap after the other, clinched the top position.
"We saw on the GPS that Carrie could do another lap, if she crossed the finish line in front of the overall leader." - explained race engineer Corinna Schäfer. "That was pretty close. But we calculated that the fuel was enough and we also saw the leading car with some problems. That was our chance and we had to strike."
The young German driver followed the instructions from the pitwall and brought home the team's first victory in the highly competitive SP3T class, also crossing the finish line in 36th out of 162 entries overall.
"What a great way to end a racing season," - said the latest addition to the Giti Tire "Girls Only" team, Célia Martin. "Big thanks to the Girls Only team for a no-mistakes weekend, WS Racing for the opportunity and Carrie Schreiner to be a fast and fantastic teammate."
If 2019 brought worldwide attention to the 100% female crew team, the "Giti Angels" will look forward to further prove their winning potential in 2020: Laura Kraihamer, Célia Martin and Carrie Schreiner will in fact make their return to the rebranded Nürburgring Endurance Series with the "Girls Only" project, as they get ready to face the challenges and storm the Green Hell.
"This is a great opportunity to advance my skills on the unique Nordschleife. The team has been welcoming me from the very beginning and is doing a great job." - said Kraihamer.
"It's a pleasure to share the car with Carrie Schreiner and Célia Martin, who are both fast and passionate teammates. Looking forward to an exciting season."
Kraihamer, an experienced endurance racer and KTM factory driver, also raced in the ADAC GT4 championship last year, where she won the opening race at Oschersleben. She later also claimed victory in the 24 Hours of Barcelona.
"I am so happy to be part of this dream team" - echoed Célia Martin. "VLN and 24 hours of Nürburgring sound good already! Can’t wait for the season to start! Thank you to WS Racing for this great chance. I will realise my dream! It is the reason why I came to this place almost 3 years ago."
28-year old Martin moved from France to Germany in 2017 with one target in mind: competing on the Nordschleife. In 2019, she contested her first full racing season, as she entered the Jaguar iPace eTrophy, on the support schedule of the FIA Formula E.
Now, thanks to the Giti Tire "Girls Only" project, she is ready to finally turn her dream into a reality.
Carrie Schreiner will also be back for a second season and commented on the rise of women teams: "I think it’s really cool, that there are more and more female drivers and female line ups in many different cars and series" - she told us.
"My experience was really positive. Everyone in the team was highly motivated and we had a really good time together. We had some good results and made friends in the team."
While she understandably recalls last year's victory as her best moment, Carrie is also keen on making more long-lasting memories within the team: "[the best moment was] the first class win in the last VLN race of the season together with Célia Martin."
"I expect more class wins during the season and our target is a podium at the 24 hours race at the Nürburgring."
The Singapore-based Giti Tire Group, one of the world's largest tyre manufacturer, will once again support the operation and the team launched a striking new livery for its VW Golf GTI car. Always in its characteristic yellow and black, the more futuristic and aggressive look won't certainly go unnoticed among race fans.
The first 4-hours race of the season will go underway on 21st March.