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May 02, 2014 - 03:47 PM
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Next Stop Rockingham
Posted by: newsla on May 02, 2014 - 03:40 PM
Sports Cars
Next Stop Rockingham

Following a successful start to his first ever British GT Championship campaign during the opening round of the year at Oulton Park a week and a half ago, Pasin Lathouras is quickly facing his next competitive outing as the series moves on to Rockingham Motor Speedway for Round 2, which takes place this coming Monday (May 4).


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Once again the race action will unfold on a Monday as this latest round falls over the English May Bank Holiday weekend and it will have additional impact as the British GT Championship will link up with the British F3 Championship for the first time this year. That means even more fans are expected at the Northamptonshire track than the bumper crowds that came to Oulton Park – the British GT Championship seems to be really living up to its promise.

The event format will see a big change too. From the double 1-hour format used at Oulton Park, Rockingham see a swap to a single 2-hour race along with longer practice and qualifying sessions; that will all involve a change of tactics as well as a differing strategy for car and tyre management.

For the second consecutive race the 20-year-old Thai driver will be racing alongside Richard Lyons, a new partnership that started to bear fruit immediately at Oulton Park. Pasin and Richard will be driving the #29 AF Corse-entered Ferrari 458 GT3.

As with every track on the British GT calendar this season, Rockingham is new to Pasin – although last Friday (April 25) he had the opportunity to take a look at the circuit for the first time as the British GT Championship held an official pre-race test day, just four days after his debut in the series at Oulton Park.

That test, which saw the AF Corse team joined by almost all the other front running outfits in the championship, provided vital track acclimatisation time for the youngster – especially important as this circuit has a set of unique characteristics.

Rockingham Motor Speedway, located at the town of Corby in Northamptonshire, first opened in 2001. It was built with the intention of bringing American-style oval racing to Europe and although it hosted a Champ Car race the year it opened, this direction never really took off. Instead, with the incorporation of extra infield track options, it’s become a popular national course and is used regularly by the trio of top domestic championships – British F3, BTCC and of course British GT. These series use the ‘international’ configuration that includes two straights and one high-speed corner from the oval layout that fuse with a twisty and technical infield section. The full ‘oval’ format is regarded as the fastest oval course in Europe.

It all adds up to a unique set of metrics and at the test day last week that presented yet another challenging learn-from-scratch encounter for the youngster, especially as the adverse conditions meant that track running time turned out to be limited. In fact it was also the first time that Richard had seen the Rockingham track, so both drivers were starting from a zero base.

The ‘English weather’ however reared its head and after an uncharacteristically mild East Bank Holiday period for the opening round at Oulton Park a fortnight ago, last Friday the elements resumed normal service with clouds, rain and fog facing the drivers and teams.

Although the weather reduced available running time, Pasin was able to experience the 3.299-km, 13-turn circuit, especially during the afternoon sessions when the track had mostly dried out. That, albeit somewhat stop-start, test has set Pasin and Richard up ready for this weekend.

The official track action kicks off at Rockingham the day after tomorrow (Sunday, May 4) with two Free Practice sessions starting at 0935 and 1215 respectively (all times local GMT). However as both sessions are 1-hour long that should give Pasin and Richard useful time to further understand the circuit. Qualifying takes place at 1545 and is 30 minutes long. Race day (Monday, May 5) starts off with a short and sharp Warm Up session at 0935 (10 minutes duration) before Round 2 of the 2014 British GT Championship is scheduled to run from 13:55 to 15:55. As usual the race will feature driver changes and refueling.

Pasin Lathouras: “The test last week could have been better if we could have seen the sun for more than a couple hours but it started to rain as we were preparing for our first practice session and started to ease off before 1pm, which was our lunch break. Before lunch we had some traction control problems but they were fixed in time for a couple of laps just before the break. During lunch it stopped raining and the track started to dry, and our afternoon session, which we thought would be dry throughout, then had slight rain for a couple of minutes but wasn't enough to make the track really wet. So both of us had a couple of laps in the dry but as we were about to put a new set of tyres on it started to rain again so we ended our session a little early to save the car for the race. But for sure Rockingham is a unique track; the banking of the first corner allows you to carry speeds, which makes it very exciting when you step on the brakes for Turn 2. It’s a nice track with its own unique challenges and I'm looking forward to the race. I’m very happy with the results at Oulton Park and with the team and my new teammate so I hope Richard and I can continue that form and it would be really good if we can get another two strong points finishes at Rockingham.”

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