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Jul 11, 2014 - 06:13 AM
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Pasin Ready For Spa Challenge
Posted by: newsla on Jul 11, 2014 - 06:10 AM
Sports Cars
Pasin Ready For Spa Challenge


The 2014 British GT Championship takes a trip overseas this weekend as it moves onto yet another iconic racetrack, this time the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Longtime home to the Belgian F1 Grand Prix, ‘Spa’ is one of the world’s most famous and demanding racetracks and over the next two days it’s going to provide a very big test for Pasin Lathouras.

 

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The largest entry of the British GT season is expected when the racecars take to the track early this morning for the first official free practice session, but there won’t be any changes in the cockpit of the #29 Ferrari 458 GT3 where Pasin will once again team up with Richard Lyons.

However his team, AF Corse, will have a very busy weekend ahead as they expand to run no less than five cars here. And that extended driving strength for the crack Italian race team will include two former GT Class winners at the Le Mans 24 Hours, Toni Vilander and Emmanuel Collard.

Pasin has always said that one of his biggest career ambitions is to race on the world’s most famous circuits and one of the attractions of choosing the British GT Championship on his first step away from Asia were the tracks on the 2014 calendar, which include Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Donington Park – and of course Spa-Francorchamps.

And racetracks simply don’t get any more tough and challenging than this weekend’s next stop for the British GT Championship. The 7.004-km, 20-turn Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is also the longest track on the calendar this year while all of its high-speed and ultra-demanding sections, such as Eau Rouge, Blanchimont, Radillon, Stavelot and La Source, are household names to race fans the world over.

Back at the beginning of April, Pasin enjoyed a one-day pre-season test at Spa-Francorchamps with AF Corse, and he immediately enjoyed the layout and its many challenges. "What an amazing track,” he said at the time. “It didn't take much time for me to learn the track because I practiced this track on the simulator before and we got plenty of time on the track as it was only GT cars testing so we had the whole day. All said I'm pretty happy with the test day,” he added then.

Now comes the serious part for the Thai youngster, as the fifth round of the 2014 British GT Championship will comprise of two 1-hour races, both taking place tomorrow, on this legendary track.

Pasin arrived here yesterday with good recent form to build upon as during the previous round of the championship, which took place last month at Snetterton Circuit, he impressively planted the #29 Ferrari on the front row of the grid for his qualifying session – his first time being on Row 1 in what is his inaugural season in British GT. Pasin and Richard were in real fighting form in both the races at the Norfolk track although the final results didn’t reflect that top form in the end.

In fact he bagged just two points from Race 2 at Snetterton and that also means that the Thai has lost some ground in the championship standings so he will be looking for plenty of consistency this weekend in order to claw back up the order in the points’ table.

However, as is ever the case this season, achieving consistency is going to be the biggest factor in the 20-year-old’s race strategy as, due to the extra 75 kg weight the #29 car has to carry all season, Pasin simply cannot run at a quick enough pace to chase for outright wins. Finding the right setup for a car that is considerably heavier than virtually every other car on the track will be the biggest task for Pasin’s team. That said, at Snetterton AF Corse produced a car that, when Pasin dug really deep in qualifying, was able to grab P2.

It’s going to be a hard weekend for the youngster, racing for the first time at Spa-Francorchamps. However, Pasin can count on that acclimatisation test here back in April as well as a strong team behind him and an experienced teammate to share the cockpit. He’s going to have to learn very fast though and managing the extra ballast will be very tough on a circuit that will amplify that deficiency.

Pasin Lathouras: “I think it’s fair to say that I’m pretty excited to be racing at Spa. When you are pounding away at the start of your career in karts, the dream that’s always in the back of your head is that one day you hope you will race on circuits like this. But now I have to make the most of this opportunity and with a team like AF Corse and with Richard as my teammate I am always under pressure to get into the groove quick and post decent times, so there isn’t any time to sit back and enjoy it. But I really like high-speed circuits and I enjoyed the test day here and I think I got used to the track quite quickly so I’m looking forward to working hard and having a good weekend. As ever though with the weight we have to carry, we have to be realistic and just like other races our aim has to be to get into the top ten and score points, and from there on to really see how far we can push up the top ten. But yes, I’m pretty excited and I can’t wait to get out on the track.”

The British GT action at Spa-Francorchamps kicks off this morning (Friday, 11 July) at 0900 (all times CET) with a 1-hour long official free practice session. That is followed by a second similar length session, just an hour later (1105-1205). Qualifying, which takes place in the afternoon, follows the usual series format of two 15-minute sessions, split between the drivers, with five minutes in between. They are scheduled for 1550-1605 and 1610-1625. Tomorrow (Saturday, 12 July) will see two races, both 1-hour long, set to go to green lights at 0915 and 1350 respectively. The British GT Championship is also part of a major race weekend programme at Spa that will culminate on Sunday with an unusual 25-hour race reserved for VWs.


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