Australian rising star, Jake Parsons, is taking major positives away from his first Super GT Suzuka 1000km event, despite the #26 Taisan SARD Audi R8 suffering race ending tyre trouble.
“It’s really unfortunate for the team that we had tyre problems beyond our control. I was very excited to be part of such a historic, flagship race for the series and for me personally, it was a great weekend of development and experience. I was able to really dial into this fantastic and challenging track, where I was able to set the fastest lap for our team during the race; which is a great take away for the future.” said the 22-year-old afterwards.
Parsons admitted the prestigious Suzuka race, round six of the Super GT season, felt like a ‘unique event’ compared to previous rounds of the highly competitive Japanese series. But added that, the large global media interest, and F1 presence, didn’t affect his ability to focus once in the car. “It was cool to have them around, but I just focused on completing my race objectives. Also, being able to drive alongside, and be competitive with these guys feels normal now which is a real confidence boost.”
The 2014 AsiaCup champion again showed strong pace during practice, gaining vital experience in both the wet and dry conditions. The initial pace dropped away during qualifying, with ex-Formula 1 driver Christian Klien putting the V10 GT300 car 24th on the grid. However, the team used the acquired data in their race set-up, enabling teammates Parsons, Klien and Shinnosuke Yamada to set competitive times, and enjoy intense on-track battles.
Unfortunately, the Taisan SARD teammates also shared recurring severe tyre problems whilst on track, that would ultimately end the team’s challenge. During his stint in the Audi R8, Parsons suffered an unsettling tyre blow out coming on to the back straight. “We’re pretty fortunate it didn’t happen at the end of the straight, as that’s the fastest corner on the circuit. When we came back into the pits, the team assessed the car and sadly we had to retire as it wasn’t safe to continue.” added the Melbourne born racer.
Speaking later, Parsons felt it was unlucky that the team’s strategy had been hampered by their unexpected and premature exit from the race. “We didn’t really get an opportunity to see the driver changes and pit stops working in full. But I think from a tyre point of view we had our strategy set. Tyre management was going to be a key factor, especially maximising fresh tyres for the longer stints with the extremely hot weather. We had the right strategy, so it’s unfortunate that circumstances were out of our control.”
Parsons, who now lives in Japan, feels he’s learned a lot working with F1 driver Klien, gaining a lot from his past experiences and knowledge. “Christian’s a great guy to work with and an extremely positive teammate. He has a good technical knowledge that I was able to pick up from. It was awesome having him as part of the team, and it felt great being able to match his pace during the weekend.”
Although he was unable to complete the Suzuka 1000km race, which becomes a 12-hour format next year, Parsons believes his experience here, and previously at the Bathurst 12-hour, have given him the confidence to approach more endurance races in the future.
“We always prepare the same way for each event, big or small, and I think my preparation and mental attitude is a real strength as a driver. Both here, and at Bathurst, I’ve learned a lot about the strategy of mentally breaking down a long-distance race into achievable sections, and knowing what you need to do. So, I feel very comfortable about doing next year’s Suzuka event, and maybe even a 24-hour race someday, using that strategy, as I know it’s very effective.”
Overall, the talented Aussie youngster is taking a lot of positives from his first Suzuka 1000km, and his debut season in Super GT. “I’ve learned such a lot, creating a solid foundation for next year. Every track we visit, we’re adding experience and knowledge, which puts us in a good position to fight for a championship next year.”
Heading into the final two races of the 2017 season, Parsons is looking forward to continuing his progress and development with the team striving to achieve their strongest results yet.
“Suzuka has shown us areas that we need to focus on and develop. We're off to Thailand (Buriram) next, but I think the final round at Motegi will be particularly strong for us. The circuit should suit our car better, so we’ll keep working on the data from each race and aim to get some points.”
Parsons is keen to thank his temporary teammate, Christian Klien, for his invaluable input and feedback at the Suzuka 1000km, helping the team move forward. Along with a big shout out to his Taisan SARD team for their hard work throughout the weekend. He’d also like to thank Smart Mind Institute for the support and help in preparation for the race, BOSS.media for help with branding strategy and the whole team behind the scenes, for working tirelessly to help drive his future.
Round Seven of the Autobacs Super GT series takes place at Chang International Circuit, Buriram, on 7-8 October.