What does a Motorsport Program Manager do in Asian racing?
Asia Super GT – 45 cars in two classes in one race, in qualifying over 20 cars within 1 second – for Europe this sounds unusual, but offers pure racing action. Ron Reichert grew up in Baden-Württemberg and had a clear goal even as a teenager – team member in racing! In a remarkably short time Ron achieved the award „Man of the Year“, awarded by the Asian Le Mans Series. Ron has been a WAC member since 2019 and was available to Jürgen Preuß for a telephone interview in Hong Kong.
You are currently working as Motorsport Program Manager for X Works, the main focus is on the Asian race series and especially the Super GT. Why and how did you come to Asia as a German?
I have always had a general interest in Asia and the special circuits like Sepang F1 Circuit, Shanghai F1 Circuit, Suzuka Circuit, Fuji Speedway and Twin Ring Motegi (the only Indycar race in Japan).
In 2017, I got the chance to go to Asia through WRT, one of the Audi factory teams, to manage their race program. After the first event it was clear that Asia is different from anything I had seen or experienced before. This includes both positive and negative points, but I liked the overall package. So I decided to accept the challenge.
I liked it very much on site and after some time I took over the Team Manager position for TSRT, which at that time was Asia’s largest Audi Sport customer team with 7 Audi R8 LMS and 2 RS3LMS. As a result, there were many racing events and the learning curve with regard to Asian conditions was very steep.
I followed the commitment at WRT and TSRT over 2017 and 2018 and we were able to achieve some championships, strong results and records.
In 2019 I was then offered the position at X Works. At this point X Works had already confirmed their entry into the Super GT Series in 2019. Super GT is probably the most powerful GT racing series in the world at the moment and has always been one of my goals in racing. So my decision to take this chance was made very quickly.
What are the special Asian conditions you just mentioned?
There are really a lot of them, I think the first thing to mention is that motorsport in Asia is even more „collaborative“ between the teams. There is still help among each other when there are problems or parts are needed for example.
This has always been an important aspect for me, because I have always associated it with motorsport, but it has got a bit lost in my opinion over the last years.
In addition, everything is different in terms of planning compared to the rest of the world. Most Asian countries are only connected by sea, so unlike in Europe or North America, we don’t have race trucks, but trips with several 40-foot containers.
These containers go from event to event and everything has to be done on site. The cars have to be prepared at the race track and this requires a lot of planning and logistical preparation. If something is missing, then it is missing. In Europe you put someone on a plane or in a car for 1-2h, but in Asia that is not possible.
In this respect, we have all paid a high price and can say with great certainty that nowhere else are preparations and planning as important as in Asia.
You sound very convinced of Asian motorsport, if you could change something, what would it be?
I think the financial situation of the teams is getting more and more difficult. The race organisers are increasing the costs and at the same time reducing the prize money and support for the teams. This cannot continue indefinitely in this direction.
You mentioned that Super Gt has always been one of your goals. Please give us a review of your first season.
The first season was a complete success. We have experienced everything from deep lows to great highs.
Super GT brings a lot of challenges, but at the same time it makes the series so great.
These challenges are for example that we drive in two classes. Firstly, there is the GT500 class, which meets the DTM specification. On the other hand there is the GT300 class, which is the GT3 class. We’ll start in the GT300 class. In the race, we’re usually 15 GT500 cars and 30 GT300 cars. That means with 45 cars with different speeds and different race strategies there is always something going on on the track. You first have to get used to it in this form.
Furthermore, there is a free choice of tyres in the Super GT. This means that every team can choose its tyre manufacturer freely and tries to gain the biggest advantage. During the season the tyres are permanently developed further. This is unique in this form in this racing series.
For example, we were over 4 seconds per lap faster in places than we were in other race series on the same circuit on standard Pirelli race tyres. You feel like the greatest hero when you look at the timing monitor. But when you are a few seconds slower on the next race weekend with a different tire compound, you put your hands over your head and think the driver has forgotten how to drive. This was a new experience for us at that moment not to react negatively but to sit down together with the tyre manufacturer constructively and to develop in the right direction. This includes developing a special tyre for the qualifying.
This is a really important part of the work, because in qualifying there are over 20 cars within one second. That is a lot more cars in one second than in Formula 1!
A highlight was to qualify our NISMO GTR GT3 before the factory Nissan and to be the fastest Nissan as a new customer team. Furthermore we had four Top10 race results.
The absolute highlight for the first season is that we broke all records set by international teams.