Feisty Latif Tames Tortuous Streets of Toronto in Best Outing To Date

  • London-born teenager scythes through the spray in Canada
  • 19-year-old revels in demanding street circuit challenge
  • Mazda Road to Indy rookie tallies fourth top ten finish of 2015

Alessandro Latif produced his most convincing performance yet in the fiercely-disputed Pro Mazda Championship in the Streets of Toronto double-header – as the rising young British star impressively threatened the top five and added a fourth top ten finish to his rookie season tally.
Already a supremely accomplished sportscar protagonist, Latif’s burgeoning open-wheel career with World Speed Motorsports (WSM) in 2015 unquestionably took a significant step forward in Canada. Amongst a larger field than usual – bolstered by a clutch of local specialists – the 19-year-old Londoner worked his way methodically through practice, consistently reducing his deficit to the front-runners on his debut around the demanding and unforgiving Exhibition Place circuit.
Qualifying 13th for both races – barely three-quarters-of-a-second adrift of the outright benchmark behind the wheel of his 260bhp single-seater – in the opening encounter, Latif took advantage of a first lap mêlée to gain some early ground. Thereafter, he grappled throughout with a less-than-perfect set-up, maturely remaining out of trouble to take the chequered flag ninth, his fourth top ten finish to-date.
The Kensington teenager rapidly advanced to eighth courtesy of a series of incidents in the next day’s wet-but-drying outing, before overhauling Will Owen for seventh at two-thirds distance. Lapping competitively and bearing down upon the group ahead, he had risen to sixth when a spin on the treacherous track surface cost him ten seconds and a handful of positions.
After recovering to ninth, a misunderstanding then saw Latif collide with early pace-setter Florian Latorre, who had pitted to switch over to slick tyres following a spin that had dropped him off the lead lap. That meant the dual UK and Italian citizen concluded his charge in the tyre barriers and ruing a missed opportunity, but the disappointment could not mask what had in all other respects been an immensely encouraging weekend.
“This track is amazing – bumpy and with lots of surface change, which makes it extremely challenging for both drivers and engineers,” enthused former Marlborough College student Latif, who has a deferred place at Loughborough University to study Mechanical Engineering. “I’m a massive fan of street circuits in general, having to give your all and brush right up against the walls without pushing too hard. There’s absolutely no margin for error – even the tiniest of mistakes carries a hefty price tag.
“We had a strong start to the weekend and went the right way on set-up, which enabled us to enjoy a reasonable qualifying session. We then made some further changes to the car for race one, but the suspension was too stiff and when the temperature picked up, we really struggled for speed. We got lucky at the start, but being so far off the pace, all I could do was just focus on keeping my nose clean and bringing it home to get some points in the bag.
“We learnt from that for race two, and the rain definitely played into our hands. I’ve always been quick in the wet, the car was really well hooked-up and we were on a roll. I was closing in on the top five until I caught some wheelspin and lost the rear, which sent me into a spin. I got the car pointing back in the right direction again and I had Latorre ahead of me, but he was on slick tyres and when we got to Turn Three, I wasn’t expecting him to take the line he did and I ran into him, which I hold my hand up for.
“Still, there are an awful lot of positives to take away from this weekend in terms of the form and progress we demonstrated. It was great to really have the car underneath me to be able to battle up towards the sharp end of the order and show my true potential; unfortunately I didn’t manage to convert it on this occasion, but there’s always next time and we’ll just have to come back fighting at Iowa.”

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