James Rossiter will race for Fortec Motorsport in this year's British Formula 3 Championship - and team chief Richard Dutton is confident his new signing can win the squad its first title in the category.
James, one of British motor sport's true emerging talents, will be supported by world-leading business consultant Celerant in his debut Formula 3 season and will also contest the category's 'blue riband' Marlboro Masters event at Zandvoort, Holland. He has been courted by many leading Formula 3 teams after stunning them with his speed in winter testing, but has decided to stick with the Fortec organisation with which he was a title challenger in last year's UK Formula Renault championship.
Making James' rise through the ranks even more remarkable is the fact that he has relatively little racing experience compared to most other drivers, having only competed in one full years Karting and two seasons in Formula Renault since he started his racing career .
Richard Dutton said: "James is a phenomenal talent and I don't care if he's a rookie - we absolutely believe in him and are confident he can win races and the title at his first attempt.
"Some people are talking up Nelson Piquet Junior as the championship favourite, but I rate James' natural ability to be higher than Piquet's. He is that good and, having been top of our wish list for some time, we are very happy to have him driving for us in 2004."
James also believes his graduation to Formula 3 will be aided by additional winter testing with the Arden International and DAMS teams, respective winners of last year's FIA International Formula 3000 and Formula Renault V6 titles.
"In addition to Fortec, working with teams of Arden and DAMS' calibre has been hugely beneficial. I have improved a lot in many areas since the end of last season," said James.
"I have seen the effort that Fortec has put into preparing for this season - it even missed November's races in Asia to concentrate on developing its cars and has switched to the Opel-Spiess engine that became very strong last year. I will also be working with an excellent race engineer in Phill Difazio with whom I've built an excellent working relationship."
Ian Clarkson,CEO of Celerant, explained why he was prepared to put his support behind James's career. "Supporting and encouraging talent like James is critical to the continued success of motorsport. Celerant believes in getting measurable results through a style of working we term 'Closework' and James is a great example of this. He genuinely works as part of his team, watches what really happens on the track, adapts his driving accordingly and constantly tries to improve. We are delighted to support him."
James' first test of 2004 with Fortec will be at Brands Hatch on Tuesday, 17th February before heading to Zandvoort for more development work. The opening two rounds of the British Formula 3 Championship will be at Donington Park, Leicestershire, on 3rd/4th April.