The racing season got underway for SD Sealants Managing Director, Nick Jones, and his racing partner, Scott Malvern, at Oulton Park over the Easter weekend. The pairing are once again competing in the prestigious British GT Championship with Team Parker Racing, and are driving a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
The pairing feel much better prepared this year, having had the opportunity to do some pre-season testing which wasn’t possible last season, with the car only arriving at the fourth round of the Championship. This was clearly reflected in a strong qualifying performance for the two one-hour races, with Nick qualifying 12th overall in the GT4 class and Scott taking fifth. This was despite an ever-present problem with the electronically controlled downshift on the car.
In spite of inclement weather, a huge crowd were in attendance for the two races on Monday, with the first being run in wet conditions as Nick took the first stint.
Nick made a good start and put in a solid performance during his 30 minute session, dicing with the Ginetta of the Century Motorsport Team which he was able to get the better of.
Scott then took to the wheel and was soon among the fray, battling hard with the McLaren 570S of Tolman Motorsport and the aforementioned Century Motorsport Ginetta. He eventually brought the car home in a very credible 7th in class and 17th overall.
Both drivers were happy with the performance, as were the team who felt real progress was being made.
A very busy public pit lane and autograph session was squeezed into the lunch break, before race two was scheduled to get underway just after 3pm.
This time around, the pro-drivers would take the first stint so Scott started the race. A lighting start saw him bolt from 5th to 3rd in class on the first lap and then up to 2nd. But class leader Michael Simpson, who had already acquired considerable front end damage on his Century Motorsport Ginetta from the start of the race, was making his car as wide as possible and soon a five car train was fighting for the lead.
The Nissan 350Z of RJN Motorsport, driven by the highly experienced Martin Plowman, was eventually able to take advantage of the situation and nip through into the lead. But when Simpson went wide at Cascades, Scott went for the obvious gap and Simpson belatedly shut the door, sending both cars spinning off onto the very wet grass.
Valuable seconds were lost but Scott got back onto the track and set about closing down the pack again before handing over to Nick at the halfway stage.
Unfortunately, Nick’s progress was hampered by a long safety car period due to an incident between the GT3 Team Parker Bentley Continental and the Team ABBA Mercedes AMG. The incident left a considerable amount of debris strewn across the track, which Nick and other competitors had to gingerly pick their way through.
Eventually the organisers had no choice but to deploy the chequered flag early on safety grounds, with the safety car still circulating. Therefore, Nick & Scott once again finished in 17th position overall and a respectable 10th in the GT4 class.
Although results could have been slightly better and the on-track incident compromised a possible podium finish in race two, there was nevertheless a feeling that real progress had been made this weekend. Nick, in particular, should be encouraged with his performance; his lap times now closer to Scott’s than they’ve ever been before.
The next event takes place this weekend on 29th & 30th April at The Rockingham Motor Speedway circuit near Corby in Northamptonshire, with Nick & Scott taking part in a two-hour endurance race.
Live TV coverage is available on the Front Runner Freeview Channel (Channel 91 & also available on Sky) and the British GT dedicated TV channel on YouTube.