Australian rising-star Jake Parsons had another positive weekend of progress in the Autobacs Super GT championship, despite an unfortunate penalty interfering with his race.
As round five of the ultra-competitive Japanese series returned to Fuji International Speedway for a second time this season, the 22-year-old was keen to utilise his previous experience at the challenging 16-turn, 4.653km/2.835m circuit.
“It was nice for me to be at a familiar track that I enjoy so much! Fuji is one of the faster circuits we race on, with sweeping corners you can really attack. It’s very satisfying track to drive and has a lot of unique challenges too. Being our second time here meant that we could bring forward our data and continue developing the car on the positive trajectory we’ve had,” explained the Melbourne born racer.
Parsons has been working particularly hard with the Taisan SARD team to develop the set-up of the car, and the improvements certainly showed with a strong pace throughout practice and into qualifying. Reaching the second round of qualifying for the first time this season, the young Aussie placed the Audi R8 V10 13th on the grid, their highest position of the year.
Although Fuji faced a typhoon warning, with the 300km event starting under heavy, menacing clouds, the entirety of the race remained dry. Parsons, who won the 2014 AsiaCup Championship, took the opening stint, getting a strong get away, battling with the top ten in the early stages. Unfortunately, a drive through penalty for a start infringement dropped the #26 GT300 car to the back of the field.
Returning to the track, Parsons dug deep, showing impressive pace, race craft and mental strength to begin moving back up the order, with teammate Shinnosuke Yamada bringing the car home in 19th position.
Although disappointed at not being able to capitalise on their strong qualifying, the Australian racer sees Fuji as another weekend of strong progress.
“We definitely had more positives than negatives, and we’ve made big steps forwards since we were here last time. Qualifying was a big standout, and our overall speed was very promising. Before the penalty, we were battling with the top teams, including last year’s GT300 champions, which is an excellent sign for us.”
Now living in Tokyo, Parsons is feeling very comfortable in Japan’s premier racing series and feels happy with his personal progression through the season. “I’m continuing to get stronger, and I’m becoming more focused on the technical side of the Super GT cars. I’ve been able to increase my feedback and detail, which is all helping us move forward.”
Speaking about the huge support he’s receiving from the Japanese fans, the 2015 Formula Masters China Series runner-up, added, “The support here is quite overwhelming. This round, in particular, people were coming up to me with hats and things I’d signed at previous events, which is an awesome feeling. Big thanks to all those fans and new ones too!”
Super GT now moves onto the most anticipated event on the calendar, the Suzuka 1000km. With the event only three weeks away, Parsons is understandably excited for the challenges this unique race will bring.
“It’s going to be a very significant race, being the longest of the season. We have a third driver joining us too, Christian Klein, so it will be great to work with and learn from him. We haven’t had much time at Suzuka, so we’ll be working hard on our preparations. However, we're all looking forward to utilising our positive experiences at Fuji this weekend to drive our performance even further at Suzuka."
Round six of the Autobacs Super GT Series takes place at Suzuka on 26-27 August.