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Opinion

How a racing newcomer has stormed British GT with "two little sponges"

OPINION: New British GT squad Forsetti Motorsport impressively won on its debut thanks to its teenage driver pairing. But instant success shouldn’t be a surprise given its extensive preparation over the winter and impressively-assembled staff that has disproven a famous Alan Hansen adage

#7 Forsetti Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 Evo: Mikey Porter, Jamie Day

In the Oulton Park media centre, a colleague gave a hysterical laugh when hearing of the GT4 winners from British GT’s opening round. It was the sudden realisation that he is older than both drivers’ ages combined – and my colleague isn’t exactly ‘old’. 

On a wet track, an unfazed Jamie Day, 18, and Mikey Porter, 16, comfortably won from pole to give Forsetti Motorsport a victory on its series debut. While many of their older rivals in more established teams spun off a tight and slippery circuit, the Forsetti boys kept it within the white lines to show extreme maturity.

“They’re mega,” says Forsetti’s driver coach Matt George. “Obviously super young, but we’ve done a lot of days on track. They’re like two little sponges: they take in all the information, digest it and pull it out of the bag when they need to.”

A lot of that maturity stems from their team, a Snetterton-based outfit that showed fearlessness in placing two teenagers in the same car. Forsetti is a new organisation, one born last November, yet on British GT’s opening weekend it generally operated like a well-oiled machine, with a victory in race one and double podium in the second hour-long contest. 

“The framework for the team to succeed is there,” says technical director Joe Holloway. “The cars are quick, the drivers are very strong, the results will come. But we’re focused on a framework for the whole championship – not just a win here and there.

“The big ones are the three-hour races and they are what we need to execute correctly. We’ve targeted a very ambitious first year.”

Porter (left) and Day won the British GT opener and were the best silver pairing in race two on Monday at Oulton Park

Porter (left) and Day won the British GT opener and were the best silver pairing in race two on Monday at Oulton Park

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

It seems like Forsetti has every chance to achieve what it hopes to with British GT – which “is the title”, as George puts it. But that should come as no surprise. From the offset, Forsetti has operated like a frontrunning outfit with a clear vision of how a team should be built.

Holloway became technical director following time as a Formula 1 mechanic, George – the holder of five GT4 lap records – was appointed driver coach after being “sold a dream”, while William Daniels, who has previously worked for series giant Barwell Motorsport, was joined as its race engineer. Forsetti was intent on hiring personnel who had the know-how of what it takes to compete at the front, which was evident at Oulton.

A slightly mistimed pitstop that caused a 1-4 finish in the opener and not a 1-2 aside, Forsetti remained level-headed like leading was the norm, as though it expected to win, despite it only being race one. But why shouldn’t Forsetti have expected it? Despite his age, Day is already a British GT4 winner, George has contested the series before, while Holloway previously spent time on McLaren’s GT programme – so it’s not quite their first rodeo.

"Ultimately, the plan from the blank piece of paper of what we wanted to develop has played out exactly how we wanted and there’s more to come"
Joe Holloway

Holloway is the leader and he impressed this writer with his thoughtful approach, which has given him the ability to read certain situations. That mindset was clear last year when it came to choosing a car for the squad’s inaugural attack. Lotus was considered, as was McLaren, but Forsetti eventually became an official Aston Martin partner team with its Vantage GT4 Evo because it believed that would be the more competitive car. At Oulton, it certainly was. 

What helped was the experience team personnel have with the Vantage – George drove an older version in 2016, likewise with Day in 2022. The only exceptions were Ginetta Junior podium finisher Porter, plus the second pairing of Mini graduate William Orton and Porsche Cayman ace Marc Warren, but the others have been able to pass on their expertise.

“I’ve been racing for 10 years,” says George. “Nearly all of those years have been in Astons, so I think they’re great. The new Evo has turned out to be a great product. We’re still finding our feet with it, but we’ve got a lot of very clever individuals so we’re working stuff out and putting our testing into practice.”

Forsetti arrived at Oulton already knowing how to win races, though. In preparation for British GT, Day and Porter contested a highly successful GT4 Winter Series campaign, scoring victories at Estoril, Algarve Circuit, Jerez, Valencia and Motorland Aragon. So, a winning partnership had already developed at a team that has chucked everything towards its project.

A winter of preparation for Forsetti Motorsport yielded success with both cars, as #47 drivers Marc Warren and Will Orton finished second in race two

A winter of preparation for Forsetti Motorsport yielded success with both cars, as #47 drivers Marc Warren and Will Orton finished second in race two

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

This is why Forsetti is no flash in the pan. The team has a clear plan for its long-term development. 

“We’re always reflective of how we’re getting on and where we’re going,” adds Holloway. “It is a short timeframe but, ultimately, the plan from the blank piece of paper of what we wanted to develop has played out exactly how we wanted and there’s more to come.

“Now, the key thing is to be established in British GT. We’re aligning good sponsors and that helps because it means everyone is on board with the vision.”

Where could Forsetti finish this year? Perhaps it continues this fine trajectory and challenges at the front or maybe numerous wins in a debut year is too much to ask for. Whatever happens, Forsetti has proved that teams can in fact win with kids.

Can Forsetti continue to hit the heights in British GT this season?

Can Forsetti continue to hit the heights in British GT this season?

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

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