Pasin Lathouras saw his third participation in the legendary 24 Hours of Spa coming to a very abrupt end after he suffered a major incident through Eau Rouge, that coming towards the end of the race’s second hour.
However, the 24-year-old Thai emerged from the major incident unscathed – without even as much as a scratch – and that can be counted as very fortuitous in the circumstances.
This year’s 69th edition of the 24 Hours of Spa proved to be tough right from the start for Pasin and his teammates, Michele Rugolo and Alessandro Pier Guidi, in the #50 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3. During practice and qualifying they were hampered with technical issues that never allowed them to unlock the car’s true pace. Despite managing these problems, they showed great resilience to get the car into the top twenty in qualifying and that allowed them to advance to the ‘Superpole’ shootout which decided the first ten rows of the grid, where they finished a creditable P15.
Alessandro started the race and – with a clean getaway for the massed pack of sixty-three GT3 cars taking part – he held position on what was turning into a dry and sunny late Saturday afternoon at Spa-Francorchamps. Unfortunately, the Italian was tagged by another car trying an over ambitious move on the half hour mark and that caused a right hand rear puncture and he had to pit to replace that tyre. (The other car was handed a warning by the Race Director). That deflation didn’t cause too much of a time loss but it threw the #50 Ferrari out of its pitstop sequence and dropped it to P59 on the road.
As the first hour of the race ticked by and once all the other crews had completed their pitstops the #50 car briefly moved into the race lead. There would soon be more dramas though as a loose piece of bodywork on the roof saw the yellow Ferrari being given the black/orange flag which required it to pit for a second unscheduled pitstop.
Pasin then took over the car from Alessandro, at the 1 hour 26 minute mark, and that second out of sequence pitstop dropped him back down to P29. However, Pasin immediately got in the groove, started posting race pace sectors right from his outlap and began steadily working his way through midfield racecars. The three drivers and their pitcrew prepared to settle in for a long race of working back into contention for victory.
That strategy didn’t last very long as, at 1 hour 43 minutes, on the start of their 45th lap of the race Pasin suffered a huge incident through Eau Rouge and the race was abruptly over. Fortunately, the young Thai stepped from the car unscathed and even managed to wave to the crowds before hopping into the Medical Car. A check over at the Medical Centre was completed within 30 minutes with the all clear but that would be the end of his race. Regrets at such an early ending clearly need to be blended with the fortune of suffering no injuries. The team is currently examining the car to draw conclusions as to the cause of the incident.
Pasin is being supported during the 2017 Blancpain GT Endurance Series by NaRaYa, LaLaMa, NaRa by NaRaYa, Tourism Authority of Thailand and Sport Authority of Thailand.
The next race on Pasin’s schedule will be the fifth and final round of Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup 2017, the 3 Hours of Barcelona, which comes up after the long summer break, on 30 September – 1 October.
Pasin Lathouras: “Well that’s not the way I wanted to end the Spa 24 Hours for sure, it’s very disappointing! After a pretty tough time during practice and qualifying with deep rooted car issues we seemed to have unlocked a pretty good race pace and the car felt good as soon as I got in for my stint. We were unlucky having to make two early enforced pitstops but on track I was able to run with the race leaders’ pace, they were just behind me, so we clearly had the speed. Then came the incident which was the biggest for my career for sure, but it really was a miracle that I got out of the car without even any small cuts, I feel very, very lucky. I want to thank all the people who have sent me messages of support and enquired if I was ok, thank you to everyone, and I’m looking forward to being back and putting this incident behind me.”