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Sep 02, 2014 - 03:21 PM
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Fighting Drive Nets Pasin The Points At Brands Hatch
Posted by: newsla on Sep 02, 2014 - 03:16 PM
Sports Cars
Fighting Drive Nets Pasin The Points At Brands Hatch


Another fighting drive from Pasin Lathouras saw the Thai youngster, along with teammate Matt Griffin, battle up the leaderboard from a lowly starting position during Sunday’s sixth and penultimate round of the British GT Championship at Brands Hatch to finish the arduous 2-hour race in a highly impressive fifth place.

 

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It was a tough few days in the South East of England for the 20-year-old, however the strong end result, his fourth consecutive points finish, moves Pasin up one place in the British GT Championship standings to sixth, an impressive position for his rookie year – and all with a car that is ballasted higher than almost all its rivals meaning that targeting the podium is a big call.

Practice & Qualifying

Brands Hatch was the first track on this year's calendar that Pasin hadn’t enjoyed any testing at beforehand so the first time he looked at its unique and historically famous features was when the Thai driver took the #29 AF Corse Ferrari 458 GT3 out for the opening free practice session last Saturday morning.

It’s one of the iconic names in motor racing history. Brands Hatch first saw racing in 1950 and subsequently went on to hold the British Grand Prix on twelve occasions. Located near Swanley in Kent, England, the ‘GP Circuit’ layout is 3.908 km long with 9 turns. But it’s smaller and narrower by today’s circuit standards and is tricky to pass on. That meant Pasin and his new teammate really needed the best possible track position for the race – so practice and qualifying would be vital. However, as it turned out, that simply wouldn’t happen and the pair would be on the backfoot for the race.

Matt was in fact standing in for Richard Lyons who had a prior engagement and the Irishman brought with him plenty of experience of the Ferrari 458 GT3 to the equation – and of the AF Corse team, as he’s been racing with them for the last six seasons. He also knows Brands Hatch like the back of his hand and he can count on wins and poles here over his successful career. So when he couldn’t even get the Ferrari into the top-15 in free practice, it really showed what decent work Pasin is doing in this car, which has to run heavier than most of its rivals.

P16 and P17 in the first two free practice sessions certainly wasn’t the best way to face the two late afternoon qualifying runs. However the AF Corse team was running like clockwork and Pasin had productively used the practice sessions to start to get himself acquainted with the circuit.

With a bumper entry of front-running GT3 cars, plus an equally large contingent of slower GT4 class cars, all out together against the clock on this short and narrow track, traffic was always going to pose a very big problem during the two 15-minute qualifying sessions – and that proved to be the case for Pasin and Matt.

Pasin hauled the Ferrari round the track to record the P11 time in his session while Matt was less lucky as he only managed P19, although both times weren’t really representative as neither driver could find a clear lap around Brands Hatch, both complaining of traffic on their flying laps.

The aggregate time to decide the grid meant that the #29 car would be starting the race from P15. Way down on the eighth row wasn’t too promising for the duo, especially with their extra weight, but the team was confident the car would perform well and with two hours of racing ahead there would be time to push hard as well as to try to capitalise on events as the race unfolded.

Race

Pasin would start the race but he would need to chase the cars in front right from the green lights as the extra ballast weight would affect the #29 Ferrari more than the other racecars and particularly cause accelerated tyre wear during the later stages of the stints meaning the race would start to go away from them.

The Thai youngster has earned a reputation this year as a fast starter and Pasin continued to build on that reputation as the field took the green lights and swept around Paddock Hill Bend, up Hailwood Hill and through the Druids hairpin; in fact by the end of the first lap he had picked off two places and was eyeing up the cars in front.

The rhythm of Pasin’s first hour stint was interrupted by two Safety Car periods but he fought as hard as he has ever done and by the time he came in to hand over to Matt he had placed the #29 inside the top-ten, a hugely impressive performance, continuing the theme of his year in British GT that has seen him battling up the order during all his stints.

Slick pitwork is one of the biggest advantages of the crack AF Corse squad and they didn’t disappoint at the driver changeover. When Pasin handed the #29 car to Matt the turnaround was in fact so fast that they made up two more places.

With Matt behind the wheel of a car he knows well and on a track he knows well, the Irishman was somewhat able to compensate for the weight disadvantage and he chipped away a few more positions to bring the car up to P5. With the tyres degrading faster than most of the other cars over the closing laps the race started to move away from Matt and his focus over the final half hour was to manage the gaps and defend his position – although when the chequered flag was waved after 2 hours of racing he was just over 3 seconds behind the car in P4.

This has been categorised as a learning year for Pasin, his first year in Europe, his first outside his native Asia and his first in British GT, and he’s certainly learnt a lot. With a car that cannot be considered to be in with a shot of winning due to the ballasting requirements, Pasin’s target is to maximise the track situation and collect the most points possible. The fifteen he bagged on Sunday made it four consecutive points finishes.

That moves Pasin up to sixth place in the standings with just one race remaining in a fortnight’s time. The Thai has 68 championship points now and realistically he will need to defend that position as the fourth placed driver is on 84 points, although mathematically he's still within reach. However, the seventh placed driver is on 64.5 points so Pasin will also have to watch his back at Donington Park.

Before that appointment though comes a second trip of the year to Spa-Francorchamps this coming weekend (5-7 September) as Pasin will be joining the International GT Open Championship for two late season rounds. As usual he will be driving for AF Corse.

Then, just a week later, is the final round of the 2014 British GT Championship, which will take the competitors northwards to Donington Park in the East Midlands (13-14 September). Like Brands Hatch, this will also be a 2-hour duration race.

Pasin Lathouras: “We had a somewhat tough qualifying session as the track was so busy and there were lot of cars all the time, everyone was struggling to find a gap so they can set their fastest time. Unfortunately for us, we both didn’t get such a clean lap for our fastest lap so we weren’t anywhere near where we wanted to be. In the race I made a good start and gained a couple of places during the first lap. Then I tried my best to stay on the pace and take as many positions as I could, but it’s very difficult to overtake at this track. However I managed to fight up to ninth place steadily but my efforts to try to take more positions was cut short due to two Safety Car periods and then we had to change drivers. The team did a superb job gaining us two more positions during the driver change alone and Matt had a great fight to gain and then maintain our fifth position as the tyres started to wear off due to our extra ballast. Matt did a great job, with his experience and driving skill he managed to keep the others behind and bring the car home in fifth. It’s been great racing with Matt this weekend, he knows the team and the car well and I think I have learnt a lot more, especially about this track.”


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