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Jun 26, 2014 - 04:17 PM
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Plenty Of Promise At Snetterton
Posted by: newsla on Jun 26, 2014 - 04:08 PM
Sports Cars
Plenty Of Promise At Snetterton


It was a tough weekend in terms of actual results at Snetterton for Pasin Lathouras in the #29 AF Corse Ferrari 458 GT3 as he left the track on Sunday evening with just 2 points to his name. However that only tells a small part of the story as in terms of competitiveness the Thai youngster, and his more experienced teammate Richard Lyons, took another big step forward.

 

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Pasin dug deep, demonstrated his growing skills in this ultra-competitive championship and planted the car on the front row of the grid in his qualifying session for Race 1 – the first time he has been on the front this year. That was the culmination of excellent work by drivers and team throughout the practice sessions as everyone moved up the gears and just got faster and faster.

However all the promise of qualifying quickly evaporated during the two races and when the dust had settled Pasin and Richard had been battered by the ‘sprint’ races where, although they showed excellent pace, they fell foul of circumstances outside their control.

But this is a learning year for Pasin, his first outside Asia, and although the races were tough and the results were not what he wanted, the 20-year-old clearly made a big step forward here and continues to impress in his rookie year in British GT. Based on last weekend’s hard work and promise, Pasin will head to Spa-Francorchamps in mid-July for the next round with renewed confidence.

Practice & Qualifying

The first day of the weekend went perfectly for Pasin and he got to grips with this new circuit quickly, steadily chipped away at his lap times as he became more comfortable with Snetterton’s layout and the prevailing track conditions.

With the #29 car performing well after technical issues had hindered it during the last few rounds, Pasin, along with Richard and the AF Corse team, was quickly into the groove. That all translated into P4 in the first practice session and P8 in the second. With traffic always an issue at Snetterton, times weren’t fully representative but it was pleasing for drivers and team to be aware that they were clearly in the ballpark.

Pasin then went up another big gear as he took the #29 car out for the first 15-minute qualifying session in the late afternoon. He had enjoyed this track during his pre-season test day here and was upbeat that he could turn in a decent performance.

So with confidence in the car and managing to make himself a gap in the pervasive traffic Pasin banged in a time that was good enough for P2 when the clocks stopped. It put him on the front row for the opening race – his first front row start since joining the British GT Championship.

With temperatures starting to tail a little after a mid-teens centigrade high and the sky remaining overcast, qualifying for Race 2 took place after a quick break. Richard, who now took his turn in the cockpit of the Ferrari for this session didn’t enjoy a lot of luck, a red flag after 5-minutes delayed proceedings just as the Northern Irishman was on his flying lap and that meant that once the action resumed his tyres were compromised. However Richard still posted a best time that was good enough for P8, which would see the #29 car starting the second race comfortably inside the top-10 and well positioned to make a run up the order.

Pasin Lathouras: “Both the practice sessions went well, we continuously improved our lap times every time we got in the car. The car was working well and not much drama during practice to report though, just a lot of traffic due to the nature of the track with a large amount of cars out on it. Qualifying went really well, I’m really happy with the time, second on the grid is a great result for us after some difficult races recently. I continued to improve my time even in qualifying and I managed to get a clear lap through all the traffic. For sure it was a pleasant surprise, but I had a good feeling coming here as I did well in testing. I think the races will be close. But while my qualifying didn’t have much problem, in Richard’s qualifying on his flying lap the session was red flagged due to a car stopping on the track, prevent him from getting the most out of his tyres. But he did a very good job in getting a good time and a position that will allow us to fight for good positions in the race.”

Both drivers were looking forward to raceday and the format of two 1-hour ‘sprint’ distance races, the same as had been used during the season opener at Oulton Park. After a cloudy day, rain was a distinct possibility though and that could provide a new dimension.

Race 1

From the front row of the grid Pasin made a decent start but the additional 75 kg of weight that the #29 Ferrari has to carry this season means the rolling starts are always tough and the tactic has to be to try to manage track position as best as possible. Pasin did so, only dropping one place to third and as the race settled in he was able to defend the position from several lighter cars behind.

However, as his stint wound down, he was punted in the rear by the 888 BMW and spun off the track loosing more time as he found a gap to get back on to the tarmac. Post-race the 888 BMW was in fact disqualified from the results for the incident, but that offered no comfort to the Thai youngster.

Pasin pitted to hand over to Richard who battled hard to make up the lost ground. Richard was then hit from behind into Turn 1, the fastest corner on this track, and that caused further damage to the Ferrari, leaving him to nurse the car to the checkered flag.

Pasin Lathouras: “I didn’t have a good start due to the weight we have, the BMW and the Porsche had much better acceleration so I lost a position by Turn 1 and from then on I tried to manage the cars behind because they were all much quicker. I defended the place for a decent amount of laps until the second Porsche overtook me and then a couple laps after that coming into Turn 2 I braked and held the inside line and all of a sudden there was a big bang from behind and I spun around. I had to wait for some cars to drive by, as it was too dangerous to rejoin, so we lost a lot of time there. Then we had our driver change. Richard did a good job trying his best to regain the lost ground but ended up getting bumped from the back so that effectively ended any challenge to gain ground.”

Race 2

The final race format saw the drivers switching around with Richard starting and scheduled to handover to Pasin around the half hour mark. Richard made a good start in the #29 car but a three-car crash into a Turn 1 immediately brought out the red flags.

The race was then shortened by the organisers from 1-hour to 45-minutes, which would give Pasin and Richard even less time available to try to make up ground from their fourth row starting slot.

Richard started well again on the restart and held his position with the team looking at the pitstop window as a perfect opportunity to make up ground as the top running order was quite bunched up. However it went badly wrong during the pitstop itself when Richard's radio wire tangled with the seatbelt costing them around 10 seconds and that dropped Pasin, when he blasted back onto the track for the final 20-minutes, down to P12 and out of the points.

Looking to salvage something out of a fraught weekend the Thai youngster put his head down and charged hard, taking the battle to the cars in front. He put in a really superb drive over the closing laps to work his way up to P9 by the time the checkered flag waved, a small but certainly useful consolation after two very difficult races. In fact Pasin was just 5 seconds off fourth place at the end and was posting second fastest laptimes over the closing period of the race despite the car's weight disadvantage.

P9 gave him 2 championship points so it wasn’t quite an empty end to the weekend, although that small haul sees Pasin slip to seventh place in the championship standings with four of the seven rounds now completed.

Pasin Lathouras: Richard had a good start and defended our track position well but when we were ready for the pitstop we had some problems at the changeover and that cost us important seconds and dropped us down. I tried my best and fought hard to regain some positions and was able to put in some really quick laps but the traffic was busy which didn’t help. However I managed to get the car home in ninth place and it was good to salvage a couple of points. It was an unlucky weekend race result wise, but in practice and qualifying the team did a great job of improving the car and I was really happy that we showed off our potential to be able to qualify second in this really competitive series.”

The British GT Championship now enjoys a three-week break before heading for the legendary Circuit Spa-Francorchamps, home of the Belgian F1 Grand Prix, for the only overseas round of the season. The event will take place on 11-12 July and, just like at Snetterton, the format will be again focused around two 1-hour races.

About Pasin Lathouras

Pasin Lathouras is a 20-year-old Thai sportscar driver competing in the 2014 British GT Championship with AF Corse. He is the 2013 Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific Champion.

Born and resident in Bangkok, where he is attending Webster University, Pasin started racing karts in 2006, winning major titles in Thailand as well as representing his home nation in overseas world finals. He progressed to the region’s premier single-seater category, Formula BMW Asia, before stepping up to sportscars in 2012 to contest the Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific, winning races and clinching the championship’s runners-up spot. In 2013 he won the Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific Championship with 9 wins from 14 races including the last 7 consecutively. Pasin is supported by NaRaYa and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

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