He may only be 26 years old, but this Dubai-based driver already has an impressively varied career under his belt. After a brief stint in Formula BMW Pacific in the early 2010s, Axcil Jefferies competed in the final year of the one-make FIA Formula Two championship in 2012 – scoring points in all but three of the races he started – before dabbling in Indy Lights and the GP2 Series from 2013 onwards. Despite the four-year hiatus that preceded it, Axcil’s return to racing in 2017 couldn’t have been more fruitful: he claimed the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Middle East trophy together with fellow 24H SERIES favourites GDL Racing and Rik Breukers (doing so again in 2019 in the ‘Pro-Am’ class), finished 2nd overall in the Trofeo’s European rankings, and made his debut in the VLN and ADAC GT Masters. He’s even found time to drive a 1974 Token RJ02 Formula 1 car in the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco.
Just don’t ask him to put a pickle on his burger…
“My name is Axcil Jefferies.”
“I am 25 years old!”*
*Since we spoke with Axcil, he celebrated his birthday earlier this month. Many happy returns Mr Jefferies from everyone at CREVENTIC!
“My first race was…well, I started racing when I was five in karting, but the first ever car race was in single seaters when I was 13 in Formula BMW in Malaysia."
“[Pause]…that’s a tough one, because obviously I’ve had highlights competing in certain championships. GP2 for instance was really cool to compete in. But I would say my first GT race to go out and win in the [Lamborghini] Super Trofeo [Middle East] with GDL Racing in Abu Dhabi 2017 was cool. That essentially re-started my racing career, because before that, I’d stopped racing for three years, and then to win on my comeback was very nice.”
“I don’t know why, but I really love Imola, for some reason. Definitely one of my favourites! It is something about the heritage of the track, and you can feel it when your drive there. It’s a proper old school kind of circuit.
“Other than Imola, obviously the Nordschleife is very special. I wouldn’t say it is my favourite track, but it is definitely has something that no other circuit has. It’s really tough and the challenge is cool.”
“Let’s see…can we be naughty or not?!”*
*Gentlemen that he is, Axcil decides against telling us the story of a boisterous evening he refers to only as ‘that weekend in Misano’ with Toksport WRT, despite repeated pleas from CREVENTIC! But as we’re talking about the time Nicolas Minassian forgot to attend a qualifying session (yes, really!) Axcil is reminded of something…
“Actually, I had an alarm issue as well, very early in my career. I went for a shootout with one of the junior programs – I was, like, 13 or 14 – and I overslept. It was a hard lesson, and since then I’ve made sure I never miss a session!”
“With the helmet I wanted to go with something quite different. Obviously, being from Zimbabwe, being an African driver, it was easy to go away from the norm because I feel most helmets these days look quite similar, or follow the same ‘karting’ designs. So I have some triable patterns on the bottom lip of my helmet and on the sides, there is the Zimbabwean flag, and on the top, some more tribal patterns. I am Muslim as well, so I have the emblem on the back.
“I have another version of this helmet too, which is basically a carbon copy of it but with no colours. No real reason for that, I just thought it was something different.”
*Before Axcil has a chance to answer, one of the Toksport WRT engineers standing nearby dives in with a mischievous smile on his face…
Engineer: “Do you want me to answer that?!
Axcil: “I’m good man, I’m good! [Laughs]. Er, let me see, greatest strength… generally I would say my race pace is a lot better than qualifying. We can be quite consistent, long stints are usually very good. So yeah, I’d say the longer stints are definitely one of my strongest points.”
“For no other reason other than I think he is cool, Will Smith! I really like him. I actually did some work with him in Abu Dhabi. He’s such a nice guy, his family is really cool. That would be awesome if he did that.”
“There are a couple of 24-hour races that would be really cool to win. Obviously the Nürburgring 24 Hours, Spa, Le Mans, y’know, the big ones. Ultimately, my next step…I mean, things are going quite well in GT [racing], but the next step is to try and get a factory drive, and then obviously start working on that.”
“Honestly, I eat like a child! A lot of people are very surprised by the way I eat my burgers – I only have beef and bread, no garnish, no sauce, nothing – and I’m a little like that with everything I eat. I hate mixing things, so everything has to be separated on the plate.”
“The nice thing is that, obviously the competition is quite tough, but everyone is generally quite fair. There’s a lot of respect on the track. I’ve done a few other 24-hour races where the guys are so aggressive, and almost drive harder than in a sprint race. But I think the level of camaraderie and respect between the drivers is the highlight of the series.”
*Axcil Jefferies was speaking with James Gent at the 2019 Hankook 24H COTA USA. Images courtesy of Petr Frýba. Special thanks also to David Vink.