Just two weeks after the season opener at Oulton park in Cheshire, SD Sealants Managing Director Nick Jones and race partner Scott Malvern returned to action in the British GT Championship over the Mayday Bank Holiday weekend at Rockingham Motor Speedway near Corby in Northants.
This time, the format changed to a single two hour endurance race which meant that qualification would be based on the aggregate time of the two drivers together in the Porsche Cayman Clubsport, run by Team Parker Racing.
Practice on old tyres was very encouraging on Saturday morning, setting a time just four tenths shy of the fastest car in the GT4 class – and third overall.
Qualifying maintained the good pace set in practice with Nick finishing tenth overall in GT4 and Scott fifth.
As the two hour race got underway, Nick initially struggled with the heavy fuel load but once he got to grips with this he ran at a good pace. Unfortunately, two safety car periods during his stint compromised track position before he handed over to Scott at the one hour mark.
Scott maintained the good pace set by Nick and started to claw back positions on track. However, a third safety car period at a crucial time really spoilt the game plan, as certain cars were waved through when the safety car failed to pick up the overall race leader and, unfortunately, pushed Nick and Scott a lap down on cars that they had been fighting with for position.
As the race drew to a close, Scott was unable to make ground on the McLaren of Joe Osbourne ahead of him. He’d had to let through the third place Ginetta under blue flags, which then positioned itself for the remainder of the race between himself and the McLaren.
At the chequered flag, Nick & Scott were classified 18th overall out of 30 cars, but a credible 8th in the GT4 class and better still 3rd (out of 10 cars) in the Pro-Am sub class; a finish that sees them move up to second in the Pro-Am division of the championship.
Afterwards, the mood was very upbeat despite the frustration with the safety car situation. Nick said, “I think we unlocked a bit more pace in the car this weekend and overall I’m very happy with our performance. I want to thank the whole team for all of their hard work.”
Scott likewise was encouraged: “I think our car being heavier is harder on the tyres than the Ginetta for sure, but compared to where we were at the end of last year this is very encouraging. We just need a bit of luck now to enable some better results. The safety cars really worked against us today and spoilt our race strategy, but we are definitely in the mix – especially for Pro-am honours and competing well against the McLarens and Nissan’s”
Nick and Scott return to action at the end of this month at the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend with two one hour sprint races on the Snetterton 300 circuit near Thetford in Norfolk.