MOTOR RACING: Below-par Alessandro in impressive form at Brands Hatch

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Alessandro Latif Alessandro Latif

MARLBOROUGH College student Alessandro Latif impressively claimed the Pro-Am Trophy in both races when he placed 13th and 11th overall in his 'home' Blancpain Sprint Series at Brands Hatch yesterday.

Latif, racing on home soil for the first time in his short motor racing career, registered the top results despite him feeling unwell.

“It was a tough but rewarding weekend,” confirmed Latif. “Only 48 hours before race day there was a doubt that I’d be able to drive due a really bad viral infection.

“I was far from 100 per cent so I have to be happy with the results especially with every lap I complete, I gain valuable experience.”

Last weekend marked 18-year-old Latif’s very first visit to Brands Hatch but that failed to stop the talented youngster from making his mark at the wheel of a Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra sportscar.

Latif and 2012 FIA GT1 World Champion Marc Basseng, who began the series in France last month with two top-10 results, clocked the 12th fastest time for the opening 60mins qualifying race – the 2.30-mile Brands “Grand Prix” track bathed in warm sunshine throughout the weekend.

Basseng was ninth before handing over to Latif with 32mins to run, Alessandro running 11th after the completion of the compulsory pit-stop phase prior to a Safety Car period that bunched up the field.

Latif found himself shuffled back a place when the race resumed and took the chequered flag 13th – a mere 21secs behind the race winner – but winner of the Pro-Am Trophy category.

“The Audi was very good but overtaking is pretty difficult with the similar performance of the entire field and I felt it was better not to take risks and jeopardise not finishing the race – for me the most important element of my debut Blancpain season is accumulating experience and mileage,” reflected Alessandro.

Latif began the second 60mins race from 13th on the grid but found himself “boxed in” at the start and completed the opening lap in 18th place – despite being hit a number of times.

But Britain’s rising GT prospect had impressively sliced his way up to 14th – on the back of a dice for ninth place – by the time Latif pitted after a solid, smooth stint for teammate Basseng to take over, taking the chequer placed 11th overall.

Latif added: “I found myself sandwiched between a BMW and a Lamborghini at the start and had nowhere to go. There was contact but I managed to keep the car on track but it had damaged some of the front ‘aero’ on my Audi.

“I just got my head down and recovered the best I could and was pleased to hand the car over to Marc handily placed.”

Latif must now wait almost two months before the next rounds of the Blancpain Sprint Series staged in Zandvoort, Netherlands, over 4-6 July.

“Overall I think the weekend was good given my illness and it’s a shame our overall results didn’t show the effort Marc, the team and I put in. But it is pretty much a ‘hold’ position at Brands and after qualifying, it was hard to make up places. Rest assured we’ll be fighting back at Zandvoort.”

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