Pasin Lathouras fought hard at Rockingham during the second round of the British GT Championship and, along with his teammate Richard Lyons, turned in one of the grittiest drives of the 2-hour race. In fact, it was one of the Thai youngster’s best career performances to date, battling up the running order after starting P11 on the grid and getting into the podium positions by the time he handed the Ferrari over to Richard mid race who then put in an equally big effort to defend the Ferrari’s track position.
However, a 10-second time penalty was added to the #29 car after the race, and that undid much of the pair’s good work, dropping them to seventh overall on the final classification.
Despite that setback, it was another highly promising performance for the Thai driver in the British GT Championship and with two rounds and three races now completed (the first was a double header at Oulton Park last month) his new partnership with Richard in the #29 AF Corse Ferrari 458 GT3 is developing very well. The pair have been classified in the top ten in all three races and have crossed the finish line twice in the top-three.
This was a pretty tough weekend from the start though. It was also Pasin’s first time at Rockingham Speedway and with poor weather limiting his running time during the official pre race test day the week before, he had a lot to learn in a very short time from a circuit that is partly banked and thus incorporates an ultra high speed section as well as a more technical infield. It was always going to be an event where the 20-year-old was on the back foot.
Practice & Qualifying
It really turned into tricky start to the weekend for AF Corse as both the team’s Ferraris battled to get onto the pace throughout both practice and qualifying – and with a compact two day format it didn’t leave a lot of time to make up ground.
Although Pasin and Richard’s car was improving by the time the back to back 15-minute qualifying sessions came into view during the afternoon and the crew was chopping seconds off the Rockingham lap, their best combined time, in 2:49.478, gave them P11 on the grid. It meant plenty of work to do come race day, but Pasin was relatively happy with progress and looking forward to the races.
Pasin Lathouras: “It could have gone better, my car did had a problem that we still have to work on, it has a slower top speed than the other car and we were probably one of the slowest if not the slowest in the field speed wise. But we managed to improve the handling of the car, so Richard and I improved our time by roughly around two and a half seconds each. Although we managed to qualify only on the sixth row we should be able to sort the problems and we are going in the right direction.”
Race format was two hours with a mid distance driver change and following a step forward with setup during the morning ‘warm up’ session, Pasin, Richard and the team were ready for the race even if the car still wasn’t fully up to speed.
Pasin started the race and from P11 he enjoyed a good run at the green lights, picking off a couple of places to position the #29 car inside the top-10 as the race started to unfold; after 20 minutes he was into P8. From there the youngster made steady progress forward, working his way up to sixth place by lap 16 and then fifth a lap later. As the race headed towards the mid distance mark and the pitstop window he was able to push up the order further, climbing into an impressive third, before grabbing second place just as cars started to pit. He then came in to hand over to Richard.
Slick pitwork by the AF Corse mechanics allowed Richard to blast out into the race in second position, albeit briefly as the Northern Irishman wasn’t in a position to fend off the #79 BMW Z4. However he took an iron grip to third place and retained the position all the way to the chequered flag after an impressive defensive drive that saw him under pressure to keep highly competitive rivals behind him.
Then it went wrong as post-race the stewards handed the #29 car a 10 second time penalty after they adjudged there had been a lap 1 infringement. That dropped them down the order to 7th place, but still allowed Pasin and Richard to keep their top-10 finishing record intact after the first three races of the season.
Pasin Lathouras: “The start was good and I gained a couple positions and then got up to 6th place. I then tried to keep a constant pace so that Richard can do his best in his run. It was a superb pit stop by the team, perfect timing again. Our car still wasn’t 100% and we were still losing out on the straights but Richard did a superb drive, managing the car well and keeping a constant gap between him and the Triple 8 car and we managed a podium finish. It was disappointing to get the time penalty added afterwards but now I’m looking forward to the next race. Pleasingly we have started with early consistency, Richard is a very good teammate and the team is doing a good job so we have to target to get another strong points finish.”