Alessandro Latif’s eye-catching progression over the course of his rookie campaign in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB was formally recognised at Porsche Cars GB’s Night of Motorsport, as the rising young British star was awarded with the ‘Most Improved Driver of the Year’ trophy.
Latif steered his burgeoning career from single-seaters to sportscars in 2016, signing up to contest the UK’s fastest one-make series – a key element of the hugely popular, ITV4 live-televised Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) support bill – with respected outfit GT Marques.
Despite the difficulties of adapting to an entirely new discipline and new car in the shape of the potent, 460bhp ‘Type 991’ Porsche 911 GT3 – not to mention needing to get to grips with a whole host of new circuits – the 20-year-old London-born ace applied himself maturely and methodically to the task at hand and consistently worked his way up the grid.
On his debut at Brands Hatch in April, Latif took the chequered flag just outside the top ten amongst the 23 high-calibre protagonists. As a measure of his outstanding improvement, when the series returned to the famous Kent venue six months later, he came close to clinching pole position in qualifying before going toe-to-toe on race day with two-time champion Dan Cammish – one of the most successful competitors in PCCGB history – and missing out on the podium by less than one-and-a-half seconds.
In-between, the Williams-Harfield Sports Group protégé and former Blancpain Sprint Series Pro-Am Champion tallied a brace of top three grid slots at Knockhill, secured fastest lap in the Rookie class at Snetterton and Silverstone National and finished inside the top ten on no fewer than eight occasions behind the wheel of his distinctive Fauna and Flora International-liveried car – with a highlight of fifth places at Knockhill and Brands Hatch GP.
Indeed, Latif secured top six results in three of the final five races to conclude his maiden PCCGB campaign tenth in the overall standings. At Porsche Cars GB’s glittering end-of-season Night of Motorsport – bringing together more than 200 people in the heart of Liverpool’s historic dockyards – the dual UK and Italian citizen was celebrated for his standout performances with the receipt of the coveted, Sacred Cafes-sponsored ‘Most Improved Driver of the Year’ accolade and £1,000 prize that accompanied it.
“It was a great honour to receive the award for ‘Most Improved Driver’ in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, and really encouraging to know that the championship organisers noticed me this year,” acknowledged Marlborough College graduate Latif, who is dovetailing his racing commitments with an Economics and Finance degree at Milan’s Università Bocconi.
“I’m proud of what we achieved in 2016. There was a lot to learn and a tremendous amount of hard work put in by both myself and the team. Coming off the back of a season spent in single-seaters, it was a significant challenge to try to tame the 911 GT3 Cup – mentally more than anything else, in fairness – as it was a completely different proposition.
“I really must thank GT Marques, as everybody gave me so much support. There’s such a family atmosphere inside the team, and Paul [Mace – Team Principal] kept believing in me even when times were tough, which was ultimately what allowed me to unlock my potential in the championship.
“As the season went on, things increasingly ‘clicked’ and I felt more comfortable inside the cockpit at every round, particularly in race situations. Overtaking is a fine art in these cars, rewarding an intelligent and considered approach – you can’t just chuck it down the inside and hope for the best in the PCCGB – and I think that was one of my strongest suits.
“Knockhill was where it all began to come together results-wise, but on a satisfaction level, the final weekend at Brands GP has to be the highlight – I was on-course for pole position in qualifying until the slippery conditions caught me out at the end of my best lap, and then I raced closely with Cammish, which underscored just how much progress we have made. I’m looking to return to the series in 2017 and build upon everything I’ve learned so far – and now with the knowledge and confidence that I can fight at the front of the field.”
Drivers across all categories of the PCCGB were eligible for the prestigious trophy, and Porsche Cars Great Britain Motorsport Manager James MacNaughton offered an insight into what set Latif apart from his adversaries.
“The ‘Sacred Most Improved Driver of the Year’ award gives the Porsche Carrera Cup GB the opportunity to recognise an outstanding season’s development, wherever it may have come from on the grid and whatever the driver’s experience,” he explained.
“As 2016 progressed, so did Alessandro, with some fine qualifying performances – most notably at Knockhill, a demanding circuit he’d never seen before. Amongst a fiercely competitive grid, in the second half of the year his raw pace and ability to adapt to the 911 GT3 Cup were impressive. 2017 could be Alessandro’s chance to convert this into the results he is capable of, and we’re very excited by that prospect.”
Source. Russell Atkins Media/Photo. John Patterson