Rockingham is next on the agenda for the British GT Championship as Nick Jones and Scott Malvern continue their challenge for this year’s GT4 title, with the pair now officially able to call themselves race winners.
A topsy-turvy Easter Monday at Oulton Park brought highs and lows for the SD Sealants-backed Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Jones and Malvern. After a freak braking issue cost them a shot at a solid result in race one, race two was halted after just four laps due to heavy and persistent rain.
However, with Scott leading the pack from pole the championship bosses opted to award the race win and full points to Jones and Malvern, therefore sealing their first British GT race victory.
This weekend’s event features the first two-hour race of the season, with Jones and Malvern currently sitting third in the overall GT4 championship and second in the Pro-Am standings. However, the pair’s result from Oulton means they will have an additional 20 seconds added to their mandatory pit stop.
Rockingham is one of the fastest circuits in the UK, with its mixture of speedbowl-style banking and twisty infield.
Jones says it should be an interesting place for the new Mercedes-AMG to stretch its legs.
Nick says: “Oulton was a strange weekend where we had a big dose of bad luck and then a slice of good luck. But it feels odd to think of ourselves as British GT race winners, especially when the second outing could hardly be called a ‘race’. But regardless, we’ve left firmly in the hunt for the GT4 Pro-Am title, and now it’s up to us to keep that momentum going.
“At Rockingham I just want to improve my own driving. Last year wasn’t my best performance there, but this year we have an awesome new car which will make all the difference. It’s a tricky track, with changing grip from the banking to the infield, so it’ll catch a few people out I think.
“We’re carrying a 20-second success penalty from our win at Oulton into this race, which will hamper our chances of fighting for the win. But – especially if it’s wet, as forecasted – our luck could swing either way. At the end of the day if we go out and make sure we’re competitive in both stints then the points and the finish will take care of itself.”
Scott says: “Rockingham will definitely be a challenge, but I’m confident that we’re heading there in good shape.
“Due to our turbo restrictor we don’t have the most power in lower gears, so from that point of view the track may not favour us as it’s quite stop-start in nature.
“On the plus side we know we have a car that’s very capable in both the wet and the dry. Nick has tested at Rockingham in the wet and came on leaps and bounds when chasing my times, so I’m confident he’ll go well.
“From my perspective, I’m not expecting to see the class-leading pace I showed at Oulton as I don’t think Rockingham will be the strongest circuit for the car, but I know I can be in the mix with the other Pros.
“If it’s dry the 20 seconds basically rules us out of a win, but in the wet we have a higher chance of a safety car, which will bring us right into play. We’ll just aim to keep things tidy and see where we end up.”