Australian rising star, Jake Parsons, had a strong start to the 2018 season with a podium finish on his Asian Le Mans debut at Sepang this weekend. The talented 23-year-old joined experienced team-mates Marco Asmer and Nabil Jeffri, to steer the #33 Eurasia car to third position on the former Malaysian Grand Prix circuit.
Hard-charging Parsons had to overcome a challenging stint in the Ligier Nissan, with his drinks bottle breaking, leading to severe dehydration in the 55 degrees plus heat. Although he missed the podium celebrations, he is recovering well and thrilled with his first experience of the prestigious endurance series.
“It was a great weekend right from the result to gaining experience. We got pole position and a podium, and also led the race. It’s been very positive for me to drive an LMP2 car, which is a new level of performance, and I’m pleased I got up to speed and refined the technique so quickly. I think that will help for the future, across different series, so I have lots of positives to take away from this weekend,” he explained.
The Tokyo based racer had little time to prepare for his ALMS debut, getting the call very late, but, with now typical, impressive mental tenacity, threw himself into the challenge ahead. “I found out about the drive on Wednesday and literally dropped everything to start preparing for the race. I landed in Malaysia and went straight to the track, so it was a pretty tight turnaround.”
Parsons felt that his experience of formula cars, combined with completing his first season in SuperGT last year, helped him adjust quickly to the new style of cars and driving technique in the ALMS series.
“It wasn’t too difficult to adapt to the car, as I had a couple of hours to prepare. The LMP2 car was kind of like a formula car with the weight of a SuperGT car. The weight ratio really reminded me of the physics of balancing a car, and the driving style was very like that of a formula car.”
He also credits the excellent support from the Eurasia team, and his team-mates, for making the transition as smooth as possible this weekend too. “Eurasia was a fantastic team to work with. They created a really positive environment to be in, with a strong group of people organising and running everything. I really enjoyed racing with the team and would love to do so again in the future. I learned so much working with my team-mates, as well as testing myself against such a quality field of drivers.”
Parsons, who won the AsiaCup series in 2014, has a strong record at the challenging 5.54km, 15 turn Sepang track, which he thoroughly enjoys driving and still holds the AsiaCup lap record on. Speaking about his love of the circuit the young racer enthused, “Sepang is probably one of my most driven circuits, so it was just a case of using my track knowledge and adapting to the car and different technique. I particularly love turn 11 here, as it has so much feeling and feedback. It’s really on the edge and oversteery on the exit, so you’ve got to be careful on the brake application, getting the balance of release right. It’s definitely one of my favourite corners in racing.”
Having completed several distance races now, including the Bathurst 12hrs and the Fuji 500km, Parsons says he would consider doing more endurance work in the future. “Endurance racing for me is a unique challenge, it’s like a journey over several hours that requires a distinctive style of driving and mindset. There’s so much that can happen along the way, lots of challenges to overcome. It’s definitely something I’d like to do more of at some point.”
Focusing on the new season ahead though, the Australian is now busy finalising his exciting plans for 2018. “This has been a great start to the year with a pole position and a podium, so I’m looking forward to building on that moving forward into the new season.”
Jake Parsons would like to thank the entire Eurasia team for the opportunity to drive this weekend. “I’d especially like to thank Mark Goddard, Gerard Rooney and Martin Quick. I learned so much from my team-mates Marco and Nabil and it was a fantastic environment to work in. I’d also like to thank James Winslow for the help and advice going into this race and wish him the best recovery following his accident”