Latif cracks top ten on challenging Silverstone weekend

Rising young British talent Alessandro Latif battled against the elements as the 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup GB competitors tackled Silverstone’s world-famous Grand Prix Circuit last weekend, keeping his cool to tally a maiden top ten finish in the UK’s fastest one-make series.Having never previously raced around the legendary Formula 1 venue, Latif spent Friday’s two practice sessions dialling himself in behind the wheel of his GT Marques-run, Fauna and Flora International-backed 460bhp Porsche 911 GT3. Inclement weather did not make life easy for him, but the 20-year-old London-born ace lapped inside the top ten amongst the 26 high-calibre protagonists come rain and shine.He was looking to build upon that form the next day, but a deterioration in the conditions prompted the cancellation of qualifying on safety grounds, meaning drivers would line up for the 45-minute endurance encounter in championship order – in Latif’s case, 14th.With the track still damp and greasy from morning rain but beginning to dry out, the field was evenly split between slick-shod cars and those on wet rubber. The Marlborough College graduate opted for the latter, and he mastered the slippery surface over the initial stages to swiftly scythe his way through to fifth, latching onto the back of the second-place scrap in double-quick time.Unfortunately, as a dry line increasingly emerged, Latif found himself defenceless against rivals on better-suited tyres, and notwithstanding a valiant rearguard effort, he slipped to 15th in the final reckoning. Sunday’s shorter sprint outing transpired to be a more straightforward affair, as the Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé advanced six spots to ninth at the chequered flag – marking his best finish to-date since switching from single-seaters to sportscars this year.

After a seven-week hiatus, the fiercely-disputed Porsche Carrera Cup GB will reconvene at Oulton Park in early June – and as a self-confessed fan of the undulating and demanding Cheshire circuit, Latif is eager to capitalise upon everything he has learnt so far.“Being such a fast layout, Silverstone GP rewards confidence, but we struggled for grip and were slightly off the pace all weekend,” mused the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series Pro-Am Champion. “We need to analyse the data to try and understand why.“I was really disappointed that qualifying was abandoned because I enjoy the challenge of driving in conditions like that, and determining the race one grid by championship position hurt us following our difficult weekend at Brands Hatch.“Given how much it had rained, we thought it would take the track quite a while to dry so we gambled on wets – but as soon as we got out on the warming-up lap, I knew it was the wrong call as the tyres immediately began graining.“I made the most of the situation whilst I could, and used my racecraft to go from 14th to fifth within the first few corners. I tried to manage my tyres as well as possible and I was able to hang in there with the leaders for a couple of laps, but after that I was effectively a sitting duck.“I gained some early ground again in race two, but with the pack ahead having made a break and drafting each other along, we were left a bit in no man’s land and didn’t have the speed to close onto the back of them.“We’ll take the time now to regroup and reflect, which will hopefully allow us to recover our momentum and bounce back at the next round. Although we weren’t able to show it at Silverstone, we know the potential is there – and we’re fully focussed on proving that at Oulton Park.”