Jake Parsons wrapped up his 2018 season in typically impressive style with more success this weekend, clinching victory in the Prototype class at the prestigious Gulf 12-hour race. The talented young Australian racer joined forces with James Winslow and Neale Muston to put the Graff Racing LMP3 entry on the top step of the podium at the Yas Marina circuit.
“We had a great time here in Abu Dhabi. It was certainly an eventful weekend; such a lot can happen in 12 hours! To win in my first 12-hour LMP3 race is a fantastic feeling,” explained the 23-year-old.
Although the #4 Graff car qualified in overall pole position unfortunately a late rule change, handicapping prototype cars with an extra minute during pitstops, took them out of contention for the outright win. The team went on to dominate the prototype class, with Parsons enjoying many stand out moments in the Norma M30 chassis.
“Putting the car on pole overall was a major highlight for us of course, then leading every lap in our class to bring it home in the top spot was a brilliant and well-deserved result for all the team. I did four stints in the car, doing maximum drive time of around five hours, and starting each of the six-hour parts of the race. It was a great challenge, with lots happening around me. At one point I was turned around by a GT car, but I managed to keep the momentum going into a 360 spin and not lose too much time!”
Parsons, who also won the Japanese F3 National class championship this year, had never driven for Graff Racing before, but was very impressed with the French team.
“They were a really good team, very welcoming and friendly too, so I thoroughly enjoyed working with them. Max, our engineer, actually helped developed the Norma car that we drove, and he was just a genius. We made some good progress together on the setup and I think that really paid off with the pace we got out of it.”
Tokyo based Parsons has raced several LMP3 events throughout the season and is keen to do more, already confirmed for the Bathurst 12-hour race on February 3rd with M Motorsport.
“I’ve done quite a few LMP3 races now, but I think the Norma M30 chassis is my favourite so far. It’s so consistent, well-balanced and very fast, so I’d love to do more endurance races and hopefully more with the Norma too. My next event is the Bathurst 12 hours in February, which I’m really looking forward to as Mount Panorama is a circuit I know very well and really enjoy racing. I still hold the track’s Formula Ford lap record, so it will be great to do another endurance race there and it’s always nice to come home and race in my own ‘back yard’.”
On seeing the 5.554km/3.451mi, 21-turn Yas Marina F1 circuit for the first time, Parsons admitted that he felt it would also become one of his favourite tracks just from the way the layout worked, and he wasn’t disappointed.
“It was great to drive! It has a bit of everything, huge braking zones, technical areas and opportunities to pass. Definitely a fun circuit and an amazing quality facility in general too, from the track and paddock, right through to the hotel here. It’s just a great place to have a race.”
Heading into the holiday season, Parsons is looking forward to allowing himself a little down time with his family after an intense season. But with motorsport the season never truly ends, so the young Australian still be focusing on his training and preparations for what is going to be another big, exciting season in 2019.
“I’m looking forward to spending some time with my family over the holidays, but I’m still focused on preparing for the challenges ahead. I’ll kick it back a little, but I’m still keeping my foot firmly on the gas as there are lots of things to do to keep moving forward.”
On leaving Abu Dhabi, Parsons added his thanks to everyone who had made the weekend such a success. “I’d like to say a big thank you to all at Graff Racing, and of course my two teammates James and Neale. They drove really well, and we worked well together too, all having flawless, consistent stints to bring home the very best result. A great way to end a great year”
The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour race takes places at the Mount Panorama Circuit, Bathurst on the 3rd February.
Gulf 12 hour gallery below, click on image to view next: