Australian driver Jake Parsons once again proved his skills racing in challenging, changing conditions, as SuperGT travelled to Buriram, Thailand for the penultimate round of the season.
“I’m really happy with how quickly I learned this new circuit and especially with my performance, as we had to deal with a lot of mixed conditions out there. Unfortunately, we had a fuel problem during the race which led to an extra pit-stop, but overall I’m pleased with the positives we’re taking away from Buriram,” explained Parsons.
The 22-year-old showed strong pace during the dry practice sessions in the #26 Taisan SARD Audi R8 V10. Teammate Shinnosuke Yamada qualified the GT300 class car in 18th position, with Parsons taking the first stint in the race. Sitting on the grid, with 30 minutes before the green light, heavy rain began to fall, leaving teams with the dilemma over tyre choice.
“We switched to wet tyres, but some left slicks on, which made the start interesting. I made up a lot of places during my short stint in the car, reaching 12th before the pitstop. Our race pace was matching the top ten cars, which is a real positive despite the issues we had that sadly prevented us from battling for points.”
The 4.554 km (2.830 mi) Chang International Circuit, was the last major Asian venue that Parsons had yet to race on, but he quickly dialled into challenging, high-speed track. “It’s good to tick this circuit off; I feel like I have Asia covered now! The circuit suited my style a lot, as it’s very similar to Sepang, which I love driving. It has a technical section in sector two, which is my favourite part, with unique corners and some long straights too. It all really connects together, and if you mess up the start, it’s hard to get back.”
Parsons particularly enjoyed driving on the glass-smooth, Herman Tilke-designed, 12-turn Chang circuit, finding it a refreshing change from many of the bumpier tracks he’s encountered throughout his global racing career. “The conditions didn’t affect our strategy or tyre degradation, but it was really good having such a smooth track. There were some bumps, but no nasty surprises in the middle of corners! It was a great quality surface to drive on, and I enjoyed it a lot.”
The 2014 AsiaCup Champion was especially impressed with the huge, warm welcome the SuperGT series received from the fans in Thailand. “It was so cool, as a lot of fans came out in spite of the rain. The atmosphere when we were on the grid was like a soccer match, with people singing and chanting. That was pretty awesome, with so much excitement building. I’d like to thank all the fans that came to support us.”
Heading into the final round of the 2017 season, Parsons feels happy and confident with how his technical knowledge, and ability to give feedback, on the GT car has improved throughout his rookie year in the series.
“Moving from single-seater racing was a big step, but my technical knowledge of the GT cars has grown massively throughout the year. I’m much more assertive and positive in my driving now, and I’m able to give a lot more positive feedback. We’re still refining things as a team, but our pace is up there with teams battling for points. SuperGT is one of the most professional series I’ve raced in, with former F1 people part of the teams, and it’s really helped me mature as a driver. You have to bring your ‘A’ game every time.”
“Looking forward to next year, I feel like I’ve learned so much and I’m positive that fighting for championships in 2018 is very doable,” added the Melbourne- born racer.
For now, though, the focus is on a strong finish to the season at Motegi next month, a circuit that Parsons believes will better suit the Audi R8. “It would be great to end the season on a high, and we’re all working hard on making that happen.”
The final round of SuperGT take place at Twin Ring Motegi on November 11-12
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