12 September 2023

Fast and focused: 17-year-old Sean Martin steering towards his motorsport debut this year

| Kellie O'Brien
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race driver

Sean Martin has gone from go-karts to cars, as he looks to make his debut in varying motorsport series over the next 12 months. Photo: Supplied.

While most 17-year-old drivers are still getting their bearings on Illawarra’s streets, Farmborough Heights teen Sean Martin is steering towards mastering high speeds around Australian racetracks.

Sean is in talks with teams for different motorsport series, including a Dunlop Super3 Series team to race in the 2024 Super3 Season.

However, to compete, he first has to secure significant sponsorship.

While many things need to align for the series to go ahead, Sean is at least taking the first steps to make it a reality.

“I’ve had a test day in the supercar with the team,” he said.

“All the serious side of it starts happening about December/January – that’s when the team starts locking in their drivers.”

The Dunlop Super3 Series, a level down from the Super2 series, includes racing deregistered cars from official Supercar teams and series.

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It’s also a support category at six of the 13 rounds of the main Repco Supercars Championship. Those rounds are at Newcastle, Barbagallo in WA, Townsville, Sandown in Victoria, Bathurst and Adelaide.

“I’ve always loved cars, but I started racing go-karts back in 2018,” Sean said.

“I used to work at the Picton go-kart track for about three years and I always used to do a lot of track days there.

“I was getting better and better and was doing well with my lap times and thought it was time to hop into a car.

“It was at the start of last year, that I got in contact with the team because they had someone racing for them in 2021 and they didn’t have anyone in a Super3 car for 2022.

“I spoke to the team owner and said to him, ‘What are your thoughts for 2023?’”

Sean said while plans were made, budget and logistics didn’t fall into place to allow them to go ahead and so discussions were now centred on pushing for 2024.

He said having performed tests in the car and getting to know the team over the past year made next year a better fit for his debut.

However, it’s not the only series on which he has set his sights.

He’s also aiming to compete in the grassroots motorsport category Hyundai Excel Series, a low-cost, effective pathway into circuit racing that caters to all experience levels from age 13.

“Funnily enough, the team owner of the Excel team that I’m racing with actually works with the Super3 team, so it’s a pretty cool connection,” Sean said.

“I’ve done a couple of test days in that and I’m scheduled to race in the Excel at Sydney on October 15 and then again on November 4, but I’m trying to find a little bit of sponsorship for that too.

“The first test in the Excel this year was the second of June and from when I arrived there I improved my lap time by 20 seconds.”

Before stepping into the Excel world, Sean had already started talks with a V8 SuperUte team as well.

He was put in contact with a Melbourne team with a Toyota HiLux, to make his V8 SuperUte debut on the Gold Coast in October.

“The owner of the team races the HiLux at most of the rounds, but he’s not going to be racing at the Gold Coast and obviously a lot of people that love to race would love to race on the Gold Coast,” he said.

“So the goal is to do all the Excels this year and then, if I get the drive for the SuperUtes on the Gold Coast, do that because that would be awesome to add to my racing resume.

“Then, if everything goes according to plan, do the Super3 next year.

“I want to do well in that next year and then hopefully graduate to Super2 for 2025.

“People are in Super2 for about two to three years and, because it’s pretty hard to get a main-game drive, my ultimate goal would be to race in the main game, but you’ve got to be in Super2 for a little while to get picked up and obviously perform well.”

Sean said getting to test the supercar at Winton Raceway in Victoria in December was his highlight so far.

“Even though it wasn’t an official race meeting, just getting the opportunity to test the supercar at Winton and be in that environment was pretty cool,” he said.

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It’s a far cry from watching it on TV as a kid in 2011 when his interest in the sport was first piqued.

“In 2018, I went to the Newcastle 500 and, from that point onwards, I knew that was what I wanted to do, and I eventually grew up and got old enough to do it,” he said.

“So since then, Supercars – the main game – has obviously been the ultimate goal.”

In the meantime, Sean will continue studying a Certificate II in Automotive Body Repair Technology and part-time work at Wollongong Autos.

Any sponsorship will go towards running costs and anyone interested in supporting Sean can email him on [email protected].

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