Aston Martin Racing crews take opening round of GT4 Winter Series by storm

Monday, January 15, 2024


Last weekend’s commencement in competitive motorsport for 2024 proved to be a rather success one for the two Aston Martin Racing powered teams entered into the opening rounds of the GT Winter Series, as both came away with silverware for tehir efforts.

Having grown into a series with definite pre-season benefits for many teams destined to race within other series within Europe later this year, the GT4 class had grown sufficiently over their own closed season to offer them a series of their own (GT4 Winter Serries), and this drew both the locally based Racar Motorsport team as well as the new Forsetti Motorsport to the series with their Vantage GT4 crews.

Having already enjoyed of few days of winter sunshine testing around the Estoril circuit in Portugal, the opening weekend was unfortunately blighted with torrential rain but that (fortunately) only added to the excitement within their three allotted races.

Having been built up over the second half of last season, the Norfolk based Forsetti Motorsport team were still running along their huge learning curve, entering into what was tehir first ever competitive race meeting with their #19 AMR Vantage GT4 with drivers Mikey Porter and Jamie Day whilst the Portuguese Racar team came with more experience with drivers Mathieu Martins and Roberto Faria within their #9 car.

Operating a system of class points only within the two thirty-minute alternate driver sprint races before a meeting concluding, pitstop and driver change hour long endurance race it was the Forsetti team who stole all the headlines in race 1 as Jamie Day secured the team’s first ever race win in the damp of Saturday afternoon after more torrential rain during Qualifying.

Early contact at turn 1 for Martins saw the #9 car drop back whilst Day benefitted from his front row start to hold onto P2 throughout the two ensuing Safety Car periods. With just over ten minutes remaining, claimed the race lead only for a charging Martins to steal that from the Englishman by the next corner leading to an AMR 1-2 as the top three cars broke free from the pack.

With less than five minutes remaining, Day used the presence of a backmarker to make his move for the race lead again to bring home that important first race win with the #9 Racar Aston coming home in P3.

On Sunday morning it was the chance of the team’s second driver and in his first GT4 Qualifying session of Saturday, Porter managed to secure a P7 start just behind that of Faria in the #9 car. This was to be both drivers first race in an Aston Martin!

Unfortunately for them, the track was still soaking wet with spray and grip an obvious issue for all and that was a clear factor in Faria’s opening lap issue when he understeered into a corner only to hit into another car. Whilst the Mercedes was able to continue, Faria was only able to limp back to the pit lane to register their first DNF of the Winter Series.

For Porter however, his was a little more cautious to start but grew in confidence as the laps and minutes passed by. Another Safety Car also helped to bring the pack back together again and that allowed him to pick off two cars on track to elevate his position to P5 overall but P3 within their Pro Class at the end. A fine debut effort.

The weekend rounded off with the hour-long pit stop race where Day and Martins again started the proceedings on track – again under wet conditions although one crew had elected to start on slicks (not either Aston) with the hope that the track would dry enough to make them beneficial.

Day quickly claimed the race lead in turn 1 whilst Martins also moved forward to P4 on the opening lap despite the tricky conditions before a Safety Car again brought the speeds and gaps back down. Going back to green, Day loses the lead to the #77 Porsche whilst the #9 car moved up close behind in P3 before swapping places soon after.

Just ahead of the pit stop window opening, the #77 Porsche slowed on track with technical issues allowing the #9 car to assume the race lead whilst the #19 Forsetti car elected to pit from second on track. They emerged P1 (#9) and P3 (#19), but Faria would have to return to pit lane soon after to serve a drive through penalty for being one second under their minimum pit stop time.

Despite changing the running order for the two Aston Martin crews, they both managed to hang on to claim another podium each with the Forsetti crew finishing P2 and the Racar crew P3.

The series now moves onto its next round at Portimao this weekend.

Photo credits - Daniel Buergin
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