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Beating the odds at Snetterton

29th May 2018

Often the key to championship success is making sure that your bad weekends are still better than those of your rivals. Snetterton threatened to be a bad weekend for SD Sealants pairing Nick Jones and Scott Malvern, but two determined, against-the-odds drives meant they still left Norfolk with a bumper points haul.

 

For Snetterton the Team Parker Racing Mercedes-AMG was forced to run with reduced power under the championship’s Balance of Performance rules, which aim to equalise lap time across the different competing brands.

The change meant that the Mercedes couldn’t stretch its legs along the two long straights that make up a significant portion of the three-mile lap, leaving Nick and Scott with a real straight-line speed disadvantage.

However, Jones managed to qualify the car fifth in class for the first hour-long race, while Scott went fourth fastest in the Pro session, meaning he’d start the second race from row two.

Things looked like being hard work against the rival McLaren and Aston Martin hoards, but Jones held his own with a solid opening stint in race one, hanging on to the top 10 overall to keep the Pro-Am podium places in sight.

A safety car coinciding with the mandatory pit window then turned the race on its head. With the entire field pitting together, Pro-Am pairings like Nick and Scott received a boost because their semi-professional rivals would have to serve an extra 12 seconds in the pits.

That meant when the order shuffled through, Scott found himself up in fourth, and with an overall podium within his sights. Scott pushed hard in the final stint to try and overhaul the rapid third-placed Aston Martin in front of him, but fell just shy. However, fourth overall also brought second place in the Pro-Am division.

For race two, things looked even tougher. Scott maintained fourth for much of his stint but struggled to make progress with the Mercedes being hamstrung on the straights. Rear damage sustained by contact with an over-enthusiastic McLaren also meant a delay to the team’s pit stop as the Team Parker mechanics had to make swift repairs to the loose bodywork.

Jones rejoined and battled hard after the time loss, taking the flag 10th overall and fourth in the Pro-Am category.

The results mean that Nick and Scott have jumped up to second in the GT4 Pro-Am points, just three down on the series leaders, and into seventh in the overall GT4 classification.

Nick said: “Snetterton was a really testing weekend for a number of reasons. The settings we had to run on the car really held us back, and then we had a lot of extra factors thrown at us. I don’t feel I hooked up qualifying as I should have, and in my view our biggest rival jumped the start of race one and got away with it, and from then on it was tough. The safety car helped us out, and Scott worked his magic and we fell just short of an outright podium, which was a shame, but second in Pro-Am is not to be sniffed at.

“Race two was even tougher as Scott got knocked about a bit through no fault of his own, which wasn’t really on. Once I got in the car I just got my head down and ticked the laps off. But we’ve got to be pleased with the points for this weekend as we’re in a great place in the championship.”

Scott added: “With the BoP as it was, our car was never going to be the fastest, which made last weekend really tough. But Nick drove really well and kept his head in race one, and I pushed like mad but every time I got alongside an Aston or a McLaren it would just drive away down the straight, making overtaking nearly impossible. I was gutted as I really wanted that overall podium for us.

“Race two was a bit of a joke. There’s not much you can do when guys with faster cars decide to repeatedly drive into you and then overtake you on the grass! Still, we’re keeping the consistency up and scoring strong points each round. On to the next one!”

British GT now moves on to its showpiece event, the Silverstone 500 three-hour race on June 9/10.

 

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