SD Sealants racers Nick Jones and Scott Malvern have vowed to battle back from a difficult opening British GT Championship weekend, after problems beyond their control left them pointless from the first round.
Despite showing formidable speed with their new Mercedes-AMG GT4 machine, the pair were twice denied the chance to leave Cheshire with valuable championship points, despite boasting both a pole position and the fastest GT4 lap of the weekend.
In tricky, slippery conditions, Nick recorded the best qualifying performance of his British GT career so far, putting the Team Parker-run Mercedes third on the grid in the GT4 Pro-Am class and a solid 11th overall for race one. However, the team’s chances of big points were scuppered when a freak ABS glitch left Nick stranded on the grid as the field pulled away for the warm-up lap.
Nick managed to get the car restarted and pull away, but lost a lap in the process. Despite the early trouble, Nick fought doggedly and showed impressive pace before handing the car over to Scott, who recorded the fastest lap of the entire weekend toward the end of the race. However, the 10th place finish in Pro-Am didn’t reflect the pair’s efforts.
Things looked even brighter for race two, if only in prospect rather than weather.
Scott was the star of second qualifying, outpacing the professional field to score his first British GT4 pole position. Hopes were high, but then things got dark.
Heavy and persistent rain soaked the track before the race, leaving standing water around the circuit. The race began behind the safety car, with Scott leading the way through the gloom. But the race director deemed the conditions too dangerous to start fully, leading to the round being abandoned after just four laps at reduced speed.
With the race not reaching its halfway point, the cancellation meant nobody was awarded championship points, compounding an already difficult weekend.
Regardless of the misfortune, both drivers have high hopes for the season ahead.
Nick said: “We just don’t seem to have much luck at the moment, but there’s definitely still some positives to take from the weekend. It was my best-ever GT4 qualifying, but to lose the chance in the race to the technical glitch hurt. Every time I tried to accelerate away from the line the ABS put 50-bar of pressure into the front brakes. AMG had never seen the fault before but we managed to work around it and get the car going, and I was pleased with my stint after that.
“I’m gutted about race two as we were in such a strong position with Scott out front. Ultimately we’re leaving round one with ‘nil points’, but we’re still very optimistic about what we can achieve with the new Mercedes-AMG.”
Scott added: “Cancelling race two wasn’t the right call in my mind as I didn’t think the conditions were the worst I’ve seen, but what’s done is done and we can’t argue with the decision. Regardless, I’ve seen some really positive things from this weekend. Nick looked comfortable and drove brilliantly in some tricky conditions and recovered from the brake issue at the start of race one brilliantly. Team Parker has also been brilliant, and we’re all working well with AMG, which can only be a big plus for the year ahead.
“To leave with the fastest lap of the weekend and a pole position to our name goes a long way to showing that we have a car that we can really fight with this year. And that’s an exciting prospect for us. Now we’ll move on to the next round at Rockingham and hope that luck is a bit more on our side.”
Although originally it looked like this result would be null and void, the British GT Championship stewards deemed late last week that full points should be awarded to the field as the series’ regulations state that a race can be declared after as few as two laps.
With the race clock counting down as the field ran behind the safety car, the stewards deemed that a race had taken place and points should be awarded.
The result hands Nick and Scott their maiden British GT4 Championship victory, and elevates them to third in the overall standings and second in the GT4 Pro-Am title hunt.
Nick and Scott will resume their British GT campaign at Rockingham, which will hold the season’s first two-hour race on April 28/29.