Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TUSC: Promising British GT youngster heads stateside again to race Flyning Lizard Audi

Alessandro Latif Press Release

Alessandro Latif will make his Petit Le Mans race debut on Saturday (4 Oct) when the talented British youngster makes a third appearance for the US-based Flying Lizard Motorsports team at the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS.

Londoner Latif, who has already scored six Pro-Am Trophy wins in his maiden Blancpain Sprint Series season with Phoenix Racing in Europe, will tackle the prestigious annual 1,000-mile race at Road Atlanta with American duo Seth Neiman and Dion von Moltke.

It means 18-year-old Latif, who made his Le Mans 24 Hour race debut this year, will have raced in North America’s biggest three endurance sportscar races in his first season of GT racing – the Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours and now the Petit race which runs to either 1,000-miles or 10 hours whichever occurs first.

“I’m delighted to be back racing for the Flying Lizard Motorsports team and especially excited to be contesting the famous Petit Le Mans race,” confirmed Latif.

“I settled well into the team at Daytona and Sebring earlier this year and really worked well with them. It is a pleasure to be driving for such a professional team.

“I’ve already had an amazing introduction to the North American racing scene competing in two of the biggest sportscar races so to now get the opportunity to race an Audi at Petit Le Mans is fantastic.”

The undulating and sweeping 2.54-mile track is located near Braselton, 50-miles northeast of Atlanta, Georgia. Latif will take to the track for the first time on Thursday (2 Oct) with qualifying for the expected 50 plus car entry on Friday evening. The race is scheduled to start at 4.15pm (BST) on Saturday afternoon.

Alessandro added: “I have never been to the Road Atlanta track but having watched some videos of past races there, it looks spectacular with some sections absolutely breathtaking.

“Not having had the opportunity to test prior to the Petit weekend will make it a tough challenge but I will prepare myself as best as I can on the simulator.”

The Audi R8 LMS ultra that Latif races in Europe differs substantially from the GTD class Audi the British youngster will race at Petit due to the differing regulations in North American road racing.

“The two Audi sportscars are very different ‘animals’,” confirms Latif. “The GT3 Audi that I race in Europe has got electronic aids like traction control and anti-lock ABS braking which the GTD R8 is not allowed to have so it’s more physical to drive.

“There is also a lot more grip produced by the additional aerodynamics on the GT3 Audi. Overall you have to caress the GTD car more as it requires much smoother inputs from the driver.”

Latif placed fifth and eighth in class at Daytona (January) – his first 24 hour race and first race in an Audi – and Sebring (March) respectively and Alessandro has his sights set on another top-five result.

Latif concluded: “A top-five is my goal. I’m in a very strong driver line-up and, as importantly, with an experienced and good team. Monitoring the results while I’ve been racing in Europe it seems the regulations do not particular favour the Audi but we just have to get on and race with what we’re allowed. Our main opposition will come from Ferrari and Porsche. But we’ll put up a big fight.”

Alex was recently part of the world’s largest gathering of Jaguar D-Types when 30 examples were driven in a parade at the Goodwood Revival (14 Sep).

Photo credit: Flying Lizard Motorsports / Bob Chapman