7 June 2014
British teen Latif to mix Le Mans and exams
Alessandro Latif will have to blend preparations for next weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours with three 'A' Level exams as he seeks a place at university.
He may not be a contender to be the youngest driver to make a start at Le Mans, but British teenager Alessandro Latif has other things on his mind as he prepares to take in his 24 Hours debut.
The 18-year old Londoner has been given permission to sit three exams in Paris this week, before taking another less than 24 hours after the finish of this year's race. The Marlborough College student will use the high-speed TGV train to make the 120-mile journey between circuit and classroom on three consecutive days in order to take exams in mathematics, advanced maths and physics.
While Tuesday is essentially a 'free' day on the week-long Le Mans programme, Wednesday and Thursday – the other days Latif must commute to the French capital – feature practice and qualifying on the schedule that goes on until midnight.
“I want to become a factory sportscar driver one day and, to reach the very top, it's vital to study and learn as much as possible,” he confirmed, “It's unfortunate that my A-levels coincide with the biggest race of my career to date but needs must. My aim is to read automotive engineering at Loughborough University so the exams are extremely important.
“It's not ideal commuting backwards and forwards to Paris, but it's essential long-term because the course at Loughborough can only help my motor racing aspirations.”
Latif, who only turned 18 in April, will race a British-built Zytek in the 82nd running of the 24 Hours, which begins at 2pm BST next Saturday (14 June).
Latif, who was born in London, drives for the Greaves Motorsport alongside British duo Michaël Munemann and James Winslow, and is the youngest British driver in the 168-driver, 56-car, field. He has been racing an Audi in America and throughout Europe so far this season, and got his first taste of the daunting 8.47-mile Le Mans circuit during the 1 June official test.
The eight-hour test was the only opportunity for the invited entry to prepare on the unique circuit, and saw the Latif/Munemann/Winslow Zytek set the 14th fastest time in the ultra-competitive LMP2 category after only using old tyres.
“I visited Le Mans last year for the first time and the atmosphere was amazing,” Latif reflected after clocking up 26-laps during the test, which enabled him 'to learn the track – and the Zytek'.
“The biggest challenge were the high-speed Porsche Curves,” he revealed, “A sports-prototype is a very different car to the Audi GT3 sportscar that I'm used to racing this year and overtaking some of the slower cars can be tricky. Sometimes it's a case of not being too ambitious and back off a little - it's better to lose a few seconds than to get bumped off the track.
“The changeable weather could be the biggest challenge for me, but I settled in with the team and was very happy with the car at the test. I'm confident that we'll have a good race.”
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