Quick learner Latif Tallies Top Ten Finish On Indianapolis Oval

  • Rising young British star impresses with top ten on oval debut
  • Another box ticked on Londoner’s open-wheel learning curve
  • 19-year-old now eager to unleash street-fighting skills in Toronto

Alessandro Latif underlined the progress he is making during his rookie campaign in the fiercely-disputed Pro Mazda Championship in 2015 with a strong run to a top ten finish on his oval racing debut in the Freedom 90 at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Already an accomplished and successful sportscar protagonist, rising young British star Latif has steered his burgeoning career stateside this year, and he headed to the 0.686-mile Indianapolis-based oval eager to continue his positive learning curve in open-wheel competition and add another string to his burgeoning bow.
The Freedom 90 was one of the key build-up elements to the legendary Indy 500, dubbed ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ and an event that the 19-year-old Londoner aspires one day to contest himself as part of the IndyCar Series, the uppermost rung on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder.
With scant prior oval running under his belt – a solitary test day a few months ago at GreshamMotorsports Park – Latif knew he would be on the back foot in relation to many of his rivals, and a troubled start to practice behind the wheel of his World Speed Motorsports-prepared, 260bhp single-seater left him playing catch-up and down towards the rear of the starting grid in 14thposition.
Impressively undeterred, the Kensington teenager thereafter consistently reduced his deficit to the fastest drivers in the field and produced a string of competitive lap times in the race, putting not so much as a wheel out-of-place and flashing past the chequered flag in P10, his third top ten finish of the campaign. The result sees Latif advance a spot to 13th in the points standings – and he professed himself more than satisfied with his weekend’s efforts.
“It was an awesome experience, and a real eye-opener,” acknowledged the former Marlborough College student, who has a deferred place at Loughborough University to study Mechanical Engineering. “You have to completely re-set your whole mental approach for driving on an oval, as it’s just so totally different to anything else.
“You can’t drive around a problem like you can on a road course or street circuit – every minor issue is suddenly much more exposed – and you need to edge gradually up towards the limit, because if you push too hard, too soon and go over it, you will find yourself in the wall.
“We struggled on the first day to dial the car in properly and establish a good set-up – we had very little grip and were sliding around a fair bit, which wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring – but we worked hard and managed to get it hooked-up much better for the race, which enabled me to make progress.
“The racing itself was great fun, and I was closing on the pack ahead when I got lapped by the leader. He was just about to overtake the guys in front too when the yellow flags came out, which put me a lap down but not them. That really hurt us, but we nevertheless enjoyed some good scraps and our pace was much more encouraging – if we’d begun the weekend in that kind of shape, it could have been a completely different outcome.
“Overall, I picked up a lot of oval racecraft, didn’t make any stupid mistakes and brought the car safely home, which is crucial at this stage of my apprenticeship as I gain track time and experience. To finish inside the top ten was merely a bonus. All of that will hopefully allow us to hit the ground running much more quickly in the next oval race at Iowa – but in the meantime, we have the Streets of Toronto double-header to look forward to. The circuit looks amazing – I can’t wait to get out on-track!”


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