MOTORSPORT: The toughest test
4:00pm Friday 13th June 2014 in By Owen Houlihan
MARLBOROUGH College student Alessandro Latif could make history at this weekend’s Le Mans 24-hour race – but not before he has sat his A levels.
The 18-year-old can become the second youngest driver ever to complete the gruelling race, which runs for the 82nd time in the French town, starting on Saturday afternoon (2pm).
London-born Latif is the youngest British driver in the 166-driver, 56-car field for the world-famous endurance event, joining British duo Michaël Munemann and James Winslow in driving a British-built Zytek for the Greaves Motorsport team.
Before that however, he faced a different sort of high-speed dash this week, making the 120-mile return journey using the TGV train after being given permission to sit three exams over three days in Paris.
The teenager was due to complete the final mathematics exam today, following further maths and physics tests on Tuesday and Wednesday. He takes another maths exam on Monday after the race.
“To be honest, I’m not worried about the exams,’’ he said.
“I had solid marks at AS level and I’ll go into the maths and do the best I can.
“It’s unfortunate that my A levels coincide with the biggest race of my career to date but needs must.
“My aim is to read automotive engineering at Loughborough University so the exams are extremely important.
“(Marlborough) College have been very supportive and flexible and tried to help me, not just with studying but with my fitness routine and things like that.’’
Latif has raced an Audi in races in America and throughout Europe this season, but got his first taste of the 8.47-mile Le Mans circuit in pre-event testing earlier this month.
“It’s a childhood dream come true to compete at Le Mans,’’ he said.
“We’ve gone in at the deep end because I’d never seen the track before then. But I love driving at night, it’s more of a guessing game.’’
Latif, who will be supported by parents Federica and Nadir and sisters Margherita and Ludovica, was also fitting in further practice and qualifying sessions at Le Mans – sometimes until midnight – around his exam commitments this week.
He will drive in shifts with his teammates during the race and added: “(It) is just unique. Everyone drives roughly equal (time) depending on the physical level of the drivers.
“It’s always changing during the race. At night, you do double because you’re trying to give the others a rest and then you rotate a bit more in the morning because you want to keep fresh.
“I settled in with the team and I’m confident that we’ll have a good race”.
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