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TRANSCRIPT: TCF Interview with Dylan Parsons

On 5 May, The Checkered Flag got to speak with Dylan Parsons as he prepares to move up from 1600 Single Buggy to Pro SPEC for the 2023 Championship Off-Road season.

The full transcript of the interview is available below. Some text has been altered from the actual dialogue to improve readability and remove verbal pauses.

An article summarising the interview can be read here.


TCF: Can you break down the move up from buggy to Pro SPEC for this year? You already were one of the top drivers in 1600 last year, but when and how did the plan to switch start coming together?

DP: So it came together last year in June. We had built a new side-by-side and I was racing Pro Stock, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I could do both,’ and it just was too much. And then this chassis came up for sale and one of my buddies was like, ‘Hey, you should go buy that,’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ Then I told Matt Gerald and then he’s like, ‘Go talk to Mikey, Mike Vanden Heuvel.’ And so I went, I stopped over at the shop that night and he’s like, ‘Go buy it.’

Anatoly Kuzmin, first Russian Dakar-winning co-driver, passes

Anatoly Kuzmin, who helped Viktor Moskovskikh and KAMAZ-master win the 1996 Dakar Rally in the truck category, died Sunday.

Kuzmin served as the co-driver on Moskovskikh’s KAMAZ-49252 at the 1996 Dakar Rally with Nail Bagavetdinov as their technician. The trio battled with Karel Loprais’ Tatra, who was seeking a three-peat, before beating him on the final stage. It was the first victory for a Russian competitor since they began taking part in 1991, and perhaps a sign of things to come for the truck class as KAMAZ won eighteen more times since. The 1996 Rally was also the début for Vladimir Chagin in a second KAMAZ, and the current team manager has won the race a record seven times.

The team released the following statement: “The KAMAZ-master team expresses condolences to the families and friends of Anatoly Andreevich Kuzmin, a veteran of the team and a member of the famous first Russian crew that won the Dakar Rally in 1996. Memory Eternal.”

The news comes less than two weeks after the death of longtime KAMAZ-master technician Nikolai Strakhov. Like Kuzmin, Strakhov was a pioneer for Russian rally raiders at Dakar as his KAMAZ finished runner-up in the team’s maiden start. Multiple passings of Dakar alumni in the past six months have also occurred such as Georges Groine, one of the earlier truck category champions in 1982 and 1990s truck competitor Alexandre Boutevillain. Matthew Stevenson and Tihomir Filipović, both also Dakar competitors in the 1990s, respectively died in February and April.

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Monaco E-Prix: Nissan ‘Delighted’ After Upgrades Perform ‘Positively’

Nissan Formula E Team enjoyed their best weekend of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship at the Monaco E-Prix, with rookie Sacha Fenestraz having secured the Japanese manufacturer’s best result of the season.

After a few woeful rounds, the manufacturer’s upgrades for the Circuit de Monaco clearly worked a treat, with three Nissan powertrains having made the Semi-Final stage of the duels. Both Nissan factory drivers made the Semi-Finals as did Jake Hughes, who drives for Nissan’s customer outfit the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team. Fenestraz and Norman Nato actually battled against one another in the Semi-Final, with the rookie having come out on top.

Fenestraz’s time in the Semi-Final was actually a new Formula E lap record in Monaco, going nicely with the lap record he set in Cape Town. Fenestraz ultimately met Hughes in the Final, where the Frenchman saw his time good enough for pole deleted, following an overuse of power. Regardless, Nissan locked-out the top three spots on the grid, something which no other powertrain supplier has achieved this season.

Fenestraz and Nato remained in second and third behind Hughes for the opening few laps of the race; however, all three lost a few places as the title contenders worked their way to the front. Fenestraz did manage to get himself past Hughes during the race for fourth, where he ended up finishing. Nato on the other hand, had to settle for eighteenth, after sustaining damage in the closing laps of the race whilst running in the points.

Despite Nato’s misfortune, Fenestraz’s result was still the team’s highest of the season and their first points finish since Cape Town, something which saw them go from tenth to seventh in the Constructors’ Championship.

Sacha Fenestraz ‘Pleased’ to be ‘Back Fighting at the Front’

Sacha Fenestraz delivered a really strong weekend at the Monaco E-Prix, with the rookie having secured a front row start for the ninth round of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, before finishing fourth at the Circuit de Monaco.

The Frenchman boasted strong pace throughout the day at The Principality, with the Nissan Formula E Team driver having set a new Formula E lap record at Monaco, during his Semi-Final duel. Fenestraz had actually claimed pole position only to have his Final time deleted, due to an overuse of power. Nevertheless, he still started the famous race from second.

He remained in second for the opening laps before slipping behind some of the title favourites, who quickly worked their way through the field. The rookie ultimately didn’t quite have the race pace to claim a maiden Formula E podium, with him having been forced to settle for fourth. Given that his most recent points finish prior to Monaco was Diriyah Race Two, the return to the top ten was most welcomed by the Japanese manufacturer.

Fenestraz was pleased to be “back fighting at the front” but did admit that his race strategy “could have been a little better”; however, he was overall delighted to be back amongst the leaders.

“A really positive weekend overall, with a fantastic qualifying session. It might not officially be our pole but I see it as ours, as we set the fastest lap and only lost it due to an overuse of power.

Back-to-back for Sutton at Brands Hatch after heartbreaking end to potential maiden win for Collard

Ricky Collard looked likely for a maiden British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) win at Brands Hatch to end the days’ proceedings, but instead saw it snatched away with two laps to go after a time penalty was added for infringing track limits.

This gifted the win to Ash Sutton who went back-to-back for NAPA Racing UK and third in the championships after two wins and a second place, with the three-time champion erasing bad memories of Donington Park.

Collard seemingly didn’t know that he had a penalty added on as he fought to the finish to take it on the chequered flag and even attempted to go into Parc Ferme for the post-race celebrations, as Toyota Gazoo Racing UK ponder what might have been.

This after he took the top spot on the opening lap passing pole sitter, Bobby Thompson who ended up with a best-ever second place.

While Sutton charged from 11th place showing scary pace within no time at all getting behind Collard and the latter defended valiantly as he fended off the Ford Focus even when initially losing the place late on.

Jake Dennis Confirms He’s ‘Back in the Title Hunt’

After enduring a challenging few rounds filled with bad luck and misfortune, Jake Dennis has confirmed that he’s absolutely “back in the title hunt”, after claiming a magical podium at the Monaco E-Prix.

Dennis’ season was quickly unravelling into one of ‘what could’ve been’ following the first race in Berlin; however, the British driver has certainly regained control of his season and most importantly, his title chances. His well-deserved third-place finish at the Circuit de Monaco on Saturday saw him claim his second podium in a row after he finished second in Berlin’s second race.

The entire day in Monaco was a solid one for the Avalanche Andretti Formula E driver, who gave himself a great chance of a big result by qualifying eleventh. Whilst he missed the duels, Dennis knew that being close to the top ten would give him a chance of a podium, something which proved to be true. He made strong progress in the opening stages of the race and quickly got himself into the top three, behind Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy.

Dennis tried to get Evans for second a few times but wasn’t able to find a way past the Kiwi, who defended superbly. Unfortunately, the Briton was unable to use his energy advantage on the final lap due to it having been neutralised behind a Safety Car, something which did leave him a little frustrated. Nevertheless, third was still a brilliant result, especially as he hit the wall on his first lap.

The podium resulted in Dennis moving into third in the Drivers’ Championship, where he finds himself twenty-five points behind Cassidy, who took the lead of the standings.

Feryn Dakar Sport opts for 2024 Africa Eco Race over Dakar

Feryn Dakar Sport was not a happy team in late 2022 when their Toyota Land Cruisers entering the 2023 Dakar Rally were turned away by the FIA after failing scrutineering. So much so, in fact, that they have no intention of trying the race again in 2024 as they will instead run the Africa Eco Race to start the year.

Koen Wauters and Tom de Leeuw were supposed to race the #257 and #268 Land Cruisers in the 2023 Dakar Rally’s T2 category, where they would have been the only other team besides Toyota Auto Body, but the FIA ruled their vehicles’ rollcages did not meet regulation. Feryn protested the verdict as Dakar organiser Amaury Sport Organisation had approved the cars in pre-inspection a month prior, and claimed they were given just forty-eight hours to rectify any issues only to be rejected again. The team eventually withdrew the #706 Land Cruiser of Nicola Feryn that was going to run the Dakar Classic out of solidarity with its barred allies.

“The good weather is approaching, but we at Feryn already have our heads in winter again,” begins a team statement. “We have decided not to go to the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia because we have no business there anymore. We have entered the Africa Eco Race in January 2024. Two cars – a Toyota Land Cruiser 100 and 200 – and our (Mercedes 2635) truck that won last year’s Dakar Classic will soon be driving through the beautiful deserts of North and West Africa again. On 31 December 2023, we will be at the start in Monaco. We will once again be able to fully celebrate the New Year in the rally atmosphere. And we finish in Dakar, the city where the desert rally belongs!”

The Africa Eco Race usually takes place in March, but the 2023 edition was pushed to January due to severe flooding at the finish line in Dakar, Senegal. While the 2024 Dakar Rally’s specific dates have not been confirmed, it is traditionally held in the first half of January and therefore comes into conflict with the AER. The ASO is considering a stretch of 6–19 January, while the AER is set to begin on 30 December and run through 14 January. Feryn had planned to race the 2023 AER prior to the postponement.

The AER models itself as taking up the mantle previously established by the Dakar Rally when the latter raced from Europe to Dakar. Said route was dropped in 2008 for safety reasons and the Rally, despite no longer actually going through Dakar, is now held in Saudi Arabia.

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Glade, Johnson, Price, Sutherland complete Sonora Rally/Mexican 1000 double

Western Mexico was bustling with desert racing in the past fortnight as the state of Sonora hosted the World Rally-Raid Championship’s inaugural trip to the Americas with the Sonora Rally, immediately followed by the NORRA Mexican 1000 in neighbouring Baja California. Sonora alone was already a difficult race to complete, much less doing so followed by the Mexican 1000 the following week, but a quartet of racers were more than up for the task.

Matt Sutherland and Matthew Glade had a particularly busy two weeks as they ran both races as part of the Ultimate Ironman Challenge, organised by NORRA and Sonora Rally for those attempting double duty on their own. Sutherland won the Sonora Rally’s Malle Moto class (finishing second in the Road to Dakar) before backing it up with his second consecutive Mexican 1000 bike overall victory. Racing in Pro Rally, he set a total time of 21:54:05 (21:53:20 excluding penalties) to hold off Modern Open rider Cade Smith by thirty-five minutes while also beating his 2022 time by fifteen minutes. Glade finished fourth in Pro Rally and fourteenth overall, seven hours back of Sutherland.

With the Sonora Rally ending on 28 April while the Mexican 1000’s first day of racing was on the 30th, Ultimate Ironman Challenge participants took a shuttle van from the Sonora finish in San Luis Río Colorado to the 1000’s start in Ensenada on the 29th. Sutherland and Glade’s bikes reached their destination and received an expedited pre-race inspection process before heading out the next day.

Mike Johnson placed an impressive third overall and second in Pro Rally. While Johnson is no stranger to the Mexican 1000 and his Rally Comp company provides roadbook devices for riders there and at Sonora, the 1000 was just his second race with Chinese manufacturer Kove Moto after finishing third in Sonora’s National Enduro.

In the four-wheel realm, Sara Price‘s fourteenth overall secured the Evolution Stock Turbo UTV victory. A twenty-minute penalty narrowed the gap to second-placed Benjamin Crawford to twenty-one minutes, though that was still more than enough of a cushion for the victory. While Sutherland came one spot short of securing free admission to the 2024 Dakar Rally, Price claimed the Road to Dakar at Sonora for four-wheel vehicles after winning the National Car/UTV division. Price’s Sonora co-driver Jeremy Gray split time in the navigator’s seat at the 1000 with his daughter Saydiie Gray.

Jaguar’s James Barclay ‘Proud’ Despite Coming ‘So Close’ to Monaco Glory

Jaguar TCS Racing Team Principal James Barclay was “very pleased” with Mitch Evans‘ podium at the Monaco E-Prix on Saturday, with the New Zealander having finished second at the Circuit de Monaco for the second season in a row.

It was another exceptional day for Evans, who showed strong pace from the very start of the meeting. The Kiwi was the only driver in the top eight of the Drivers’ Championship to make the duels ahead of the race, with him having secured sixth on the grid. This put him in a prime position to get amongst the leaders early on, something he did with ease.

Evans actually found himself in the lead of the race briefly, before being overtaken by fellow Kiwi Nick Cassidy mid-race, following a surprise move at the first corner. The Jaguar driver gave it his absolute all to find a way past Cassidy; however, there was simply no way to overtake the Envision Racing driver. Evans’ pursuit of a famous Monaco win weren’t helped by team-mate Sam Bird, who hit Nico Müller on the penultimate lap at Sainte Devote, resulting in a Safety Car finish.

Bird had a miserable afternoon and ended up finishing sixteenth, after being awarded a five-second time penalty for being deemed at fault for the collision with Müller. His race wasn’t helped by him missing the Attack Mode detection point during the race, meaning he lost substantial ground.

At least Evans was on hand to score the Coventry-based team some crucial points, keeping them third in the Constructors’ Championship. Barclay was delighted with the team’s fifth podium from the last four races; however, even he noted that they came “so close” to the most famous win in motorsport.

Mitch Evans Left a ‘Little Disappointed’ after Missing Monaco Win Again

Winning at the Monaco E-Prix eluded Mitch Evans for the third consecutive season on Saturday, with the Kiwi having been forced to settle for second-place behind Nick Cassidy once again.

The Jaguar TCS Racing driver put in another exceptional display at the Circuit de Monaco, with the championship contender having looked quick right from the start of the day. He was the only driver in the top eight of the Drivers’ Championship to make the duels and ended up starting the race from sixth, giving him a great chance of another big result.

He quickly got himself amongst the leaders and actually found himself at the front briefly, before he was overtaken by Cassidy into Turn One. Unfortunately for Evans, he just didn’t quite have the time to make a move on Cassidy, with a last lap battle having been stripped from him due to a late Safety Car. The result means he’s finished second at the last two races in Monaco, whilst he finished third three years ago.

Given how special a Monaco win is for any driver, Evans was understandably “a little disappointed” to have come so close to the win yet again, only to fall short. Despite the mild disappointment, Evan’ second-place finish marked his third rostrum from the last four races, following his wins in São Paulo and Berlin. The Jaguar driver is certainly a real contender for the title now once again, with him having risen to fourth in the standings.

He sits twenty-seven points behind his fellow Kiwi who is the new leader of the championship, with Evans having been quick to give Cassidy “huge credit” for his second consecutive win.

INTERVIEW: Dylan Parsons prepares for Pro SPEC jump in 2023

Dylan Parsons will enter new territory for the 2023 Championship Off-Road season as he moves from the 1600 Single Buggy to Pro SPEC trucks. Parsons was one of the top drivers in his previous class, winning the 2021 title and finishing second in last year’s points battle, but expects the transition to bring its own challenges.

The Checkered Flag had the opportunity to speak with Parsons on Friday about the switch and plans for the year.

Making the Switch

The plan to graduate to trucks started to form even before the 2022 season started as he acquired a truck chassis, though he was initially skeptical of the idea. Besides buggies, he also had a side-by-side programme to run part-time in the Pro Stock SxS class.

“We had built a new side-by-side and I was racing Pro Stock, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I could do both,’ and it just was too much,” he recalled. “And then this chassis came up for sale and one of my buddies was like, ‘Hey, you should go buy that,’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ Then I told Matt Gerald and then he’s like, ‘Go talk to Mike Vanden Heuvel.’ And so I went, I stopped over at the shop that night and he’s like, ‘Go buy it.’

“So we kind of had it planned all last summer and we really didn’t tell anyone, and then on the Champ Off-Road Podcast (in July), I said I’m building a Pro SPEC for next year.”

‘This Feels Amazing’: Nick Cassidy Leads Championship Following ‘Special’ Monaco Victory

Nick Cassidy is the new leader of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship following a “special” performance at the Monaco E-Prix, with the Kiwi having once again timed his attack to absolute perfection.

Cassidy claimed a stunning win at the Circuit de Monaco on Saturday to take the lead of the championship by a handy twenty points, after Pascal Wehrlein endured a day to forget. The New Zealander actually suffered a disastrous start to the day in Monaco after failing to set a single hot lap across both free practice sessions, meaning he entered qualifying somewhat blind.

Despite this, the Envision Racing driver did well to salvage ninth on the grid, a position he knew he could win from. That is exactly what the twenty-eight year-old did, after timing his charge to the front sublimely, just like he did two weeks ago in Berlin. After making his way to the front, Cassidy simply managed his pace and energy to the point where he could remain in the lead from Mitch Evans, who couldn’t find a way past.

The Envision driver has seemingly figured out the trick to winning races this season, given he’s now won two in a row. To highlight his sensational recent form, Cassidy has finished on the rostrum in five of the last six races, a run of form which has seen him take control of the championship. It was delight for the team in general, with the Silverstone-based team having moved to the top of the Constructors’ Championship, by thirteen points.

Cassidy and Envision are certainly the power couple as things stand, with the driver having been left “lost for words” after winning the most famous race of them all.

Fernando Alonso: “The result gives us a lot of confidence for tomorrow”

Fernando Alonso was able to capitalise on Max Verstappen’s and Charles Leclerc’s misfortune in qualifying for the Miami Grand Prix, to secure his second front row start of the season. For Lance Stroll, the Canadian endured a qualifying session to forget as he failed to make it past Qualifying One for the first time in the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

Verstappen’s mishap heading into turn eight caused the Dutchman to abandon his first run of Qualifying Three, opening a path in which Alonso was able to place down a strong lap time which placed him behind only Sergio Pérez.

Alonso, equipped with a new set of soft tyres, was improving on his original time but the untimely red flag, as a result of Leclerc’s incident, would deny the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team driver any chance of claiming his first pole since the 2012 German Grand Prix.

“It was a very good qualifying session. Things have been a bit up and down for the last few events – Baku was very difficult – but, over a regular weekend format, we’ve been able to experiment with a few different options on the car. We put it all together for qualifying – the car felt good. And there was still a lot more pace in the car because my Q3 lap was done on used Softs. On my second run, on fresh rubber, I was already a few tenths up – but then the yellow flags came out.“

The last time Alonso lined up on the front row of the grid at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, he was joined by Pérez, who once again will be joining the Spaniard on the front row for Sunday’s race.

Sutton seals Race Two honors at Brands Hatch ahead of Ingram, Thompson on reverse grid pole

Race Two is complete at Brands Hatch as the 2023 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) continues with Ash Sutton joining Colin Turkington in sealing his first win of the season on Sunday.

Sutton kept Tom Ingram at bay for most of the race as he commanded the field after a superb diving move on the opening lap to get past Colin Turkington going into Druids.

Ingram was the next to pick off Turkington as he took the place on the run through Surtees to come from initially fifth place on the grid. The top three remained unchanged from there with Ingram unable to make the run at Sutton and instead banked second with points on the board.

The action came further back with Jake Hill and Dan Cammish fourth and fifth respectively ahead of Rory Butcher in sixth who anchored the trio of Toyota Corollas, with Sam Osborne who up to now has looked superb this weekend after his maiden podium last time out making one move too many making contact with Ricky Collard on the final corner.

It was Josh Cook who initially lost the place to Osborne who ended up the beneficiary, finishing ahead of Osborne, George Gamble, and Collard who came out of it worse off. Reverse grid-wise, number 11 was picked out meaning Bobby Thompson heads onto pole position alongside Tom Chilton who won the same race last time out at Donington Park.

Sérgio Perez: “I feel like I’m in a good moment but it is a long season and it’s all about consistency”

Sérgio Perez claimed Oracle Red Bull Racing’s fourth pole position of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship at the Miami Grand Prix. While for Max Verstappen, an error on his first run of Qualifying Three would prove to be a costly one as Charles Leclerc’s crash at the end of the session meant that the two-time world champion was unable to register a time. Forcing Verstappen to settle for a start on the fifth row of the grid in ninth place for Sunday’s race. 

Pérez had largely struggled to match the pace of his team-mate through the practice sessions but a late setup change prior to qualifying allowed the Mexican to feel more comfortable inside the cockpit of the RB19.

Despite feeling more comfortable with his setup come the time of qualifying, Pérez elaborated on how he still had to face the challenge of the freshly laid tarmac at the Miami International Autodrome, when putting together his pole lap.

“Overall, I was happy with today, we delivered when it mattered and under a lot of pressure. It was good. We had a difficult weekend up until qualifying it has been a struggle. The track was improving but this tarmac has only recently been laid and is really sensitive, it has made things a little tricky so I needed that second lap. I knew coming into Turn 3 that you cannot leave anything on the table and it was important to make sure it was a strong lap.”

Pérez’s pole lap would go unchallenged by the front runners after Leclerc forced a red flag in the closing stages of Q3, which left the stewards with no other choice but to not resume the session due to the limited amount of time left on the clock.