Alessandro Latif continued to gain experience in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB (PCCGB) as the the UK’s fastest one-make series sped into Snetterton in Norfolk last weekend (29-31 July), with the rising young British star producing a spirited performance to match his best result of the 2016 campaign to-date.
Around the longest circuit on the calendar at just under three miles, Latif lapped ninth and eighth-quickest in the two free practice sessions – notably posting the second-fastest time amongst the 25 high-calibre protagonists through the middle sector.
Behind the wheel of his GT Marques-run, Fauna and Flora International-liveried 460bhp Porsche 911 GT3, the 20-year-old London-born ace made further progress in qualifying as he lined up ninth for race one and seventh for race two – displaying impressive consistency along the way and outpacing ex-British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) race-winner Stephen Jelley for good measure.
Sunday dawned under sunny skies, and although Latif conceded a position when the lights went out in the opener, he subsequently regained it with a neat switchback move up the inside into Riches on lap six. Thereafter, he unleashed a series of competitive lap times and set about chasing down the multi-car tussle over fourth, indulging in a cat-and-mouse scrap with former PCCGB championship runner-up Jonas Gelžinis.
Their duel was halted when a backmarker delayed the Marlborough College graduate by unwittingly running him off the track in the closing stages, before an accident ahead on the dash to the chequered flag promoted Latif to a season-high eighth.
The Williams Harfield Sports Group protégé was fired-up to go even better in the afternoon contest, but following a bright start, a mistimed downshift into Turn Two pitched him into a spin and relegated him to virtually the back of the pack. After completing lap one all the way down in 23rd, he fairly scythed through the field with a number of incisive overtaking manoeuvres enabling him to recover to an eventual 13th-place finish.
That helped Latif to advance a position to 12th in the drivers’ standings, and he is eager to gain more ground as the fiercely-disputed, ITV4-televised BTCC support series moves swiftly on to Knockhill in Scotland in just under a fortnight’s time.
The Challenge of Snetterton
“Overall, it was a really encouraging weekend and I think we showed a lot of promise,” mused the dual UK and Italian citizen. “I enjoy the challenge that Snetterton presents, although a small error through Coram on my fastest lap in qualifying pitched my car sideways and cost me a higher grid slot for race one.
“That said, I was able to move forward and had some good battles along the way. I was catching Gelžinis and felt I was quicker than him. The more I put him under pressure, the more mistakes he made but a couple of laps from the end, a backmarker squeezed me right onto the grass as I went to lap him, which cost me my rhythm and with it, any chance of attacking Jonas.
“In race two, I got a good launch away from the line but then pulled the downshift too early as I tried to dart to the inside for Turn Two, which locked up the gearbox and spun me round. It was perhaps a tad over-ambitious, but sometimes you have to grab opportunities when you see them and unfortunately on this occasion, it didn’t pay off. That dropped me to the rear of the field, after which I charged back through as far as I could – at least I got some decent overtaking practice in, I suppose!
“It’s important to remember that the Porsche Carrera Cup GB is a seriously tough and competitive championship and all the drivers in the ‘Pro’ class are absolutely at the top of their game, but things are very close to properly ‘clicking’ for us now and once that happens, I’m convinced the results will follow.
“Knockhill is about as different to Snetterton as it could possibly be, but I’m already excited to get there and to try and maintain our momentum, because we definitely have some unfinished business to take care of.”