Student Latif handed Le Mans chance
5:30am Monday 26th May 2014 in Exclusive By Sam Morshead
MARLBOROUGH College student Alessandro Latif is set to make his sports-prototype debut in the world’s most gruelling and important endurance sportscar race next month when he tacks to the track at Le Mans.
Latif, who only turned 18 last month, will race a British-built Zytek in the 82nd running of the twice-around-the-clock race on June 14-15.
The speedster has been given the chance by Peterborough-based Greaves Motorsport team and will race with fellow Britons Michaël Munneman and James Winslow.
“Greaves Motorsport has consistently been one of the leading teams in the LM P2 class and has a bundle of experience,” said Latif, who is only due to get behind the wheel of a Zytek for the first time this week.
“I was close to racing for them at the end of last year in Bahrain but didn’t compete due to financial reasons. I’m desperately hoping that I can attract some funding and support for my maiden Le Mans campaign – it would be nice to think that a British company wants to support a young British driver on the world sportscar ‘stage’.”
For Latif, competing in the prestigious Le Mans race marks the end of a hectic six-month period that is laying the foundations for a successful career in GT and now sportscar racing.
Last November, he was invited by Audi Sport to test an Audi A4 DTM in Spain as part of its annual young driver test before, in January he took part in his maiden twice-around-the-clock race, finishing fifth in the Daytona 24-hour. He went on to claim eighth in the Sebring 12-hour two months later. Latif was the highest-placed Brit in his class in both races.
“Le Mans marks my second 24 hour race after Daytona. My experience is limited but at least I know what to expect in a race of such duration although Le Mans is like no other race – that much I do know,” he said.
“This is my biggest race to date and actually the biggest race possible I could ever compete in. Daytona and Sebring were pretty big and special as well but Le Mans is Le Mans – there is literally nothing else like it in the world and it has always been my dream to race there.
“I can remember watching Steve McQueen’s Le Mans film over and over. I’m over the moon to be racing in such a historic race this year.”
Latif will get the chance to drive on the ultra-fast 8.47-mile circuit at the only test opportunity on Sunday, June 1. He will, however, conduct a shakedown test at Snetterton in Norfolk before the official test day.
“It has been a crazy last few months where things have moved very quickly but as a driver I focus on the next task at hand,” he said.
It’s the third year in succession Greaves Motorsport feature at Le Mans with a pair of Nissan-powered Zytek prototypes, having won the LM P2 class in 2011 and recorded a third-placed finish last year.
Team manager Jacob Greaves said: “We are pleased that Alessandro is joining Greaves Motorsport at Le Mans. His combination of speed and youth fits right into the template that we have for helping young drivers.
“To achieve victory is a challenge but we can certainly attain it, the ingredients are present on both sides, all we need to do now is go racing.”