Thursday, 24 September 2015

Naomi Schiff

Naomi with the KTM X-Bow in 2015

Naomi Schiff is a Belgium-based South African driver. She is one of the most cosmopolitan speedqueens on this site, with a Belgian father and a Rwandan mother. She spent much of her childhood in South Africa, where she began racing. Currently, she competes under the South African flag, although she has previously raced on a Belgian license.

Naomi’s father raced himself when he was younger, but he did not push her into motorsport. She caught the racing bug at a karting birthday party held by a friend. By the age of twelve, she was racing her own kart.

Following a successful kart career in South Africa, she moved up to Formula Volkswagen in 2010, still only aged 16. She did six races, with a best finish of sixth, and was 17th overall.
Her Formula Volkswagen season was accompanied by some more karting, and she continued to race karts, with some success, in 2011. At this time, she was studying for exams, and also modelling, in addition to her racing activities.

After that, she moved to Belgium, and raced a Norma M20 in four rounds of the Belgian Special Open Trophy, managing a second in her first race, with no testing beforehand. She was also fifth and sixth at Spa. Unfortunately, the owner of the team for which she was driving vanished, and took all of her sponsor money with him. This was the end of her season.

A period on the sidelines followed, and she used this as an opportunity to finish her education. She decided afterwards to decamp from South Africa to Belgium full-time, and to pursue motor racing as a career. This was the end of her modelling days, and she was now on the lookout for sponsorship and racing opportunities.

She reappeared in 2013, racing in different machinery in different parts of the world. She was back in a Radical for two rounds of the Dutch Supercar Challenge, giving her another two sixth places, after making a guest appearance at the Motorland meeting of the Formula Renault Eurocup. She was less successful there, with one 34th place. A chance meeting then led to a new career direction; she was due to test a Lamborghini Gallardo for the Reiter Engineering team, but when she arrived, a customer had already claimed the car. Later that day, she met the driver, a Chinese racer and team owner. When Naomi explained that the drive she was testing for had been taken, the team owner offered her his own race seat, in the Clio Cup in China. So it was off to Southeast Asia, which was a good move. She won her second Chinese Clio Cup race, after coming second in her first, against experienced local drivers, at Chengdu. At Guangdong, she picked up another win, but did not finish her other race. In between, she did two Asian Formula Renault races, and was sixth and seventh at Zhuhai. Whilst in China, she guested in some rounds of the Scirocco-R Cup there, with at least one second place. Late in the northern hemisphere season, she was one of the twelve entrants in the VW Scirocco-R Shootout for female drivers, held in Germany. Lucile Cypriano was the eventual winner.

She intended to compete in the North Europe Formula Renault series in 2014, but this fell through. She returned to the Chinese Clio Cup, invited back by her 2014 team, and won it convincingly, with four victories. In Europe, she competed in the Zolder 24 Hours, in a Wolf GB08 sportscar, and was seventh overall, with Jonathan Pizzuti, Kurt Thiers and Guglielmo Belotti.  

In 2015, she worked with Reiter Engineering again, driving a KTM X-Bow in the Nova GT4 Euro Series. She entered the championship for the Slovakiaring round, with Reinhard Kofler, and was rewarded with a third place and a win. She has also achieved two fourth places at the Red Bull Ring. As well as the GT4 Series, Naomi also drove a Lamborghini Gallardo for the Reiter team at last, in the GT Sports Club series for “gentlemen” drivers.

She competed in the GT4 series in again in 2016, in a Reiter-prepared KTM X-Bow. She only did a part-series, with her best finish being a seventh place, at Pau.

In 2017, she began the year with a run in the Dubai 24 Hours, in the X-Bow. She was part of an all-female team with Marylin Nierderhauser, Anna Rathe and Caitlin Wood. They ran as high as fourth in their class, but a collision with another car put them out of the running. They just made it to the end, in 72nd place.

Most of her season was spent in a slightly different all-female team, but with the same car. She raced in the GT4 European Series, usually with Marylin Niederhauser and once with Caitlin Wood, for RYS Team WP. The season was not a huge success and the team did not do the whole calendar. Being disqualified from the opening round at Misano did not help. Naomi did not receive a radio message from the team informing her of a drive-through penalty due to a too-early driver change.

Her best result was a sixth place at the Slovakiaring. Naomi was 28th in the championship individually, with two points fewer than Marylin.

She did not do as much racing in 2018 as in previous years. In May, she drove the X-Bow in the Nurburgring 24 Hours with Laura Kraihamer, Lena Strycek and Rahel Frey. They were second in class and 39th overall. Later in the year, she teamed up with Laura and the True Racing regulars for the Catalunya round of the 24H Series. They were second in class again and ninth overall.

Naomi is signed with the Reiter team, who run the Lamborghini and KTM works sportscar teams, as a junior driver.

(Image copyright KTM)

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