MARLBOROUGH College student Alessandro Latif netted a hard-earned eighth place on the British youngster’s Sebring 12-hour endurance sportscar race debut on Saturday.
The 17-year-old shared an Audi R8 LMS with Nelson Canache Jr (VEN), Spencer Pumpelly (USA) and Markus Winkelhock (D) in the annual Florida race.
Competing in the GTD category, Latif’s Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi had started the 62nd running of the Sebring race from 22nd in class on the 63-car grid.
“That was without doubt the most demanding, physically- and mentally-draining race I’ve ever contested in my short motor racing career,” said Alessandro.
The Latif Audi led its class 90 minutes into the race while Alessandro himself ran third approaching one-quarter distance but he was forced to make an unscheduled pit-stop to replace a punctured tyre, dropping to 14th.
Having impressively worked his way back up into the top-three, Latif unluckily collected another rear puncture necessitating a further unscheduled pit-stop with four hours gone.
The unfortunate Briton rejoined the race in 15th place completing a gruelling two hours 43 minutes stint behind the wheel in the energy-sapping, midday 80° temperatures.
Latif was back in the Audi an hour before sunset in 12th spot but made up two places in his one-hour stint behind the wheel with consistently fast lap times.
Over the final five hours, Alessandro’s co-drivers made up another four places despite a further two punctures.
Alessandro added: “We fought back after my two punctures only to get another two in the last half of the race which was hugely frustrating.
“There was so much carnage and I was pleased to steer clear of any accidents even if I was unable to prevent driving over small pieces of debris that caused my punctures."
Latif is now focusing on concluding a race programme for the remainder of the year.
He said: “I’m close to agreeing an arrangement that will see me racing regularly in Europe."