It was a something of a mixed weekend at a wet and overcast Monza for Pasin Lathouras although he came away from the penultimate round of International GT Open 2015 with his eighth podium finish of what’s been a highly competitive season.
However in Sunday’s second race a penalty that came about as a result of confusion during the mid race mandatory pit window saw him finish outside the points for the first time this season and that proved costly in terms of championship points although the 21-year-old Thai driver and his teammate Michele Rugolo were able to consolidate their grip on the vice-champions position and remain in the title race with just one round and two races remaining.
Mixed weather had greeted the competitors when they arrived at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the sixth round of the International GT Open season and the weather would play its part throughout the weekend.
After topping the timesheets in both Free Practice sessions the changing track conditions didn’t play at all into the hands of Pasin and Michele in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 GT3 during the official qualifying sessions and they would line up in P5 for both races giving them plenty of work to do.
Pasin started Race 1 and after a very clean getaway he made up a place at the beginning of lap 2 to move up to P4. The Thai youngster kept pushing during his stint but thanks to their results at the previous race Pasin and Michele had a 30 second pitstop time handicap to factor in which pushed the car down the running order. Michele drove superbly through his stint and built on Pasin’s work and by the time the checkered flag waved the Italian had worked his way up to third place and grabbed the final step of the podium.
Race 2 didn’t go so well as Michele, starting from P5, had to deal with hard to pass cars in front of him but he steadily closed down the gaps to move up to P3 by the time he handed over to Pasin. With another 30 second ‘success’ time handicap at the handover that pushed the #51 car back to just outside the top five Pasin drove tenaciously and quickly pushed his way past the #12 Corvette and the sister #52 AF Corse Ferrari to move up on the front runners. He subsequently overtook the #10 Aston Martin but by then the #51 car had been hit by a time addition imposed for confusion at the mandatory closing time of the pit window and that saw Pasin finish outside the championship points for the first time this year.
Despite all that Pasin retains the runners up spot in the Drivers’ championship going into the final round of the year, which will take place in Barcelona at the end of this month. He’s only placed behind the new #2 McLaren 650S which is crewed by two top class professionals, a superb achievement for the 21-year-old Thai driver.
In fact Monza has been quite rewarding to Pasin so far. This was his third visit and on all three occasions he’s stepped out to the iconic – and unique – jutting podium. The first time came in Superstars GT Series in 2013, then in International GT Open last year and once again last weekend. On all three occasions he’s driven a Ferrari 458 GT3.
Pasin Lathouras: “We worked very hard all weekend and it was good to keep our podium run up in the first race and for sure it’s always a very special moment to come out onto this podium. In the second race we were unlucky and it was unfortunate that we got caught with a penalty. But sometimes that happens in racing and now we have to turn our attention to Barcelona and make sure we keep our runners up spot in the championship secure.”