Pasin Lathouras heads to Monza this weekend for the penultimate round of International GT Open 2015 with his ambitious championship challenge very finely balanced.
With just two rounds and four races still remaining the 21-year-old Thai driver is only 9 points off the top of the classification after a hard fought season, which includes three wins and seven podiums from the ten races held so far.
That’s unquestionably title-challenging form and now the trip to Italy comes at a highly critical juncture in the championship as neither Pasin or his closest rivals on either side can afford to drop any points or suffer a non-finish.
The season started with a win for Pasin and his teammate Michele Rugolo in the AF Corse Ferrari 458 GT3 at Paul Ricard back in April and has since taken in Estoril, Silverstone, Red Bull Ring and most recently Spa-Francorchamps earlier this month. After this weekend’s race at Monza there will be just one more round remaining, four weeks later at Barcelona (30 Oct – 1 Nov).
Pasin goes into this weekend in his best form since relocating to Europe to two years ago, take his career towards a higher level, having notched up three wins from his last three events.
The youngster claimed a victory on his first ever visit to the Red Bull Ring in the fourth round of International GT Open back in early May, then came his quite stunning breakthrough world class victory in the Spa 24 Hours in July and most recently he took another victory at the latest International GT Open round, the fifth of the year, which saw the Thai youngster making a quick return to Spa-Francorchamps.
The high speed nature of Italy’s famous Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is likely to play into the hands of the championship leading McLaren 650S which is crewed by two ‘pro’ drivers, but Pasin and Michele will be giving everything and with the usual slick work from AF Corse behind them they can head into the race targeting the podium, despite the fact they will also be receiving a ‘success’ time penalty thanks to their recent wins and podium finishes.
Unlike most of the circuits he’s competed on this year Monza won’t be new to Pasin as he raced on the legendary 5.793-km, 11-turn track twice before. Firstly, during a one-off appearance in the Superstars GT Series in 2013 where he impressively made the podium on his first attempt and then last year during a mini late season two-race programme in International GT Open he returned to the Italian track and also grabbed a place on the podium. Clearly the Thai driver will want to keep up that excellent podium run this weekend.
Monza is one of the world’s most famous and historic circuits and its corners, including Curva di Lemos, Variante del Rettifilo and Curva Parabolica are all motorsport ‘household names’ so it’s also very important for Pasin to learn this circuit and gain more experience.
Pasin Lathouras: “I’ve had a good couple of races and really we’ve had a pretty consistent season and that’s kept Michele and I close to the top of the championship standings. The last two circuits will probably not suit us as much as some of the other tracks but I think we are in a very good position and we all will have to dig deep and fight every inch to the end of the season now. AF Corse is a very strong team and if we all perform 100% then we can chase more wins and more points and for sure the title is our ambition. I’ve raced at Monza once before a couple of years ago so it’s not completely new to me but I will need to work quickly to get onto the pace. Anyway I’m really looking forward to it and for sure we will be aiming to win as usual.”
The track action kicks off on Friday (2 Oct) with two 60-minute duration Free Practice sessions before Qualifying Q1 (1105-1135, all times are local, CET) and the 70-minute Race 1, due to start at 1550, take place on Saturday (3 Oct). Qualifying Q2 (0940-1010) and Race 2 are scheduled for the following day, Sunday (4 Oct); the 60-minute race will go to green lights at 1400.