Forte Racing powered by US RaceTronics has been “absorbing” Lamborghini’s endurance racing expertise ahead of the team’s full season IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut according to team principal Shane Seneviratne.
The longtime championship-winning Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America entrant, which is set to run under the Forte Racing banner, is fielding a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 for Loris Spinelli and Misha Goikhberg in the GTD class.
Lamborghini factory driver Marco Mapelli and International GT Open champion Benja Hites will complete the lineup for this weekend’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
It comes after the California-based squad undertook a season of Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS with Spinelli and Steven Aghakhani in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, which marked USRT’s first full-time GT3 campaign alongside its LMP3 and Super Trofeo programs.
For Seneviratne, who holds deep roots in the Atlantic Championship, the GTD program has been largely centered around Silver-rated driver Goikhberg, who also moves over from GTWC America competition.
“We’ve been doing Super Trofeo and veered off into the AMG with SRO but my heart’s always been with Lamborghini,” Seneviratne told Sportscar365.
“I like the guys, I like the brand. We had the opportunity to get in here and we started talking to Misha.
“It all started with Misha and Bob Perona. He has been Misha’s driver coach for a long time and Bob and I all worked with Simona de Silvestro in the Indycar days.
“Bob felt like the most comfortable thing for Misha to do was to be in that same kind of support and environment that Simona had when she ran and she was successful with us.
“She came from Newman Wachs with Jonathan Summerton. We built that culture and gave her the support [needed].
“We’re trying to create that same atmosphere for Misha.
“The majority of the budget comes from there. With Arrow, we had a small partnership last year with the Super Trofeo and they were excited to step up a little bit more and see what they could do with a GTD program.”
While having run under the USRT/O’Gara Motorsport/Change Racing banner in Super Trofeo last year, the team will eventually be fully known as Forte Racing, a new marketing company that Seneviratne is a part owner in.
“I’ve had a long-term relationship with Lamborghini of Beverly Hills, Tom O’Gara’s dealership,” Seneviratne explained.
“Then Edoardo Piscopo and Julia, Edoardo’s wife, they also wanted to get involved, [as well as] Eddie [Littlefield] from Change Racing.
“It was [USRT]/O’Gara/Change [last year], so we’re now trying to get rid of all those names and start with a single brand, which is Forte Racing.”
Seneviratne heads into his first 24-hour race as a team owner although he operated O’Gara Motorsport’s short-lived Lamborghini GTD program in 2016, which led to the relaunch of USRT later that year.
Seven years later, debuting Lamborghini’s second GT3 evolution, Seneviratne is looking forward to the renewed challenge.
“More than pride, I’m glad to represent Lamborghini and to have this opportunity,” he said. “It’s not an opportunity that you get very often.We have to work together as a cohesive group.
“But I can’t emphasize enough how supportive Lamborghini has been. It’s the same way I like to run the team.
“I feel like Lamborghini had now just become an extension of that. We don’t throw each other under the bus. We are there for support and there’s no egos involved.
“There’s five ways to do something so I’m always listening and they’re listening to us.
“Right now they have way more [endurance racing] experience, all of the Lamborghini technicians, and we’re absorbing it in.
“We’re grateful that we have really good support from Lamborghini.”