Latif excited for Indy debut following solid Barber weekend
 April 29, 2015| 
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Alessandro Latif is Indianapolis-bound in the 2015 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, after maintaining his upward momentum and encouraging progress at Barber Motorsports Park to snare a brace of top 12 finishes.

Having steered his burgeoning career stateside this year and switched disciplines from sportscars to open-wheel competition with World Speed Motorsports, Latif travelled to Barber buoyed by promising early-season outings at St. Petersburg and NOLA.

Although the rising young British star had some prior knowledge of the undulating and demanding Alabama road course from February’s Pro Mazda Winterfest, track conditions were so different two months later that very little data could be carried over. After working his way methodically and maturely through the testing and free practice sessions, Latif proceeded to qualify his 260bhp single-seater 14th for Barber’s opening encounter.

He converted that to 12th position at the chequered flag, whilst from 15th on the grid in race two, the 19-year-old Londoner – a dual UK and Italian citizen – went one better by advancing to 11th, despite a succession of yellow flags frustrating his efforts to crack the top ten around a circuit where overtaking is at a premium even at the best of times.

Nonetheless, Latif’s results constituted another decent points haul and more vital experience to tuck under his belt, and consolidated the Kensington teenager’s 14th spot in the championship standings in the fiercely-disputed series – less than 20 points adrift of the overall top ten during his rookie campaign.

Next, he heads to Indianapolis – America’s iconic pantheon of speed – for a ‘Month of May’ double bill. The Grand Prix Circuit is followed a fortnight later by Lucas Oil Raceway, highlighting the tremendous variety of tracks on the calendar and the superb apprenticeship provided by the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, with a combination of road courses, street circuits and ovals making for an all-round test. To say that Latif is enthusiastic would be quite the understatement.

“I’m really excited about going to Indianapolis – racing there will be awesome!” acknowledged the former Marlborough College student, who has a deferred place at Loughborough University to study Mechanical Engineering. “I remember watching the F1 grand prix around the road course and have seen some on-board videos, and it looks like a really cool track, and of course the ‘Brickyard’ itself needs no introduction – it’s a legend in its own right.

“I’m looking forward to my first oval race, although I’m well aware that it will be a different kettle of fish altogether. Ovals represent both a physical and mental challenge, and they’re far from as simple as they look – they involve much more than just turning left!

“I know I keep reiterating it, but we really did start from zero this year so we’re taking everything step-by-step and we’re pleased with progress. St. Pete was a positive debut, and we showed good pace at NOLA before I pushed a little too hard and ended up over-driving in qualifying.

“It’s probably fair to say that I struggled more at Barber than elsewhere because it’s such a technical track, and although I’d raced there in the Cooper Tires Winterfest, it had been so wet back then that it wasn’t any real benefit – it was a completely different ballgame this time and we were effectively beginning again from scratch.

“As we’ve been doing all along, we focused predominantly on the fundamentals and my technique. Single-seaters are so unlike what I’ve been used to in the past; I’m adjusting to a totally different type of car, which means we need to make the most of every bit of track time we get. It’s a learning curve and whilst it’s not about performance or results at this early stage, we are improving from week-to-week.”

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