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Plenty of positives despite disappointment at Donington for Team SD

13th July 2021

The SD Sealants-supported Team Parker Racing squad showed huge amounts of promise during last weekend’s Intelligent Money British GT Championship round at Donington Park, with drivers Nick Jones and Scott Malvern making big strides with the performance of their Porsche 911 GT3 R.

While the race ultimately ended in an early retirement from the third round of the season due to a gearbox fault, the early bath won’t be allowed to overshadow what was otherwise a highly impressive weekend for Jones and Malvern, who enjoyed easily their most competitive day in the Porsche yet during the Saturday.

Prior to the Donington Park round, Jones and Malvern spent a day of testing alongside Porsche stalwart Nick Tandy in an attempt to help reveal some of the setup and driving secrets of the 911 GT3 R. The day proved very encouraging, with Team Parker Racing coming away with heaps of setup data and both drivers with a better understanding of the dynamics of the German supercar.

The difference was clear right from the off on Saturday, with the pair finishing the first practice session fourth fastest overall, and less than half-a-second shy of the ultimate pace. Things got even better in the second session, with Malvern setting the second-best lap of all, missing top spot by just 0.019sec.

That set things up nicely for qualifying. Jones took the wheel for the first segment and went an impressive seventh quickest overall, just 0.6sec shy of pole. Malvern then backed that up by dominating the second qualifying segment, setting not one but two laps that were good enough for top spot. It meant that on combined times Jones and Malvern would line-up fourth for Sunday’s race.

After their impressive first day, Sunday would prove a more difficult affair, with the race punctuated by multiple safety car periods in what would become a crash-strewn opening half.

Jones took the start and immediately made a great getaway to dive past Adam Balon’s Barwell Lamborghini into Redgate. Elevated to third, Jones was unlucky to be caught up in an incident with Michael Igoe’s WPI Lamborghini while being squeezed in the pack. Slight contact sent the Huracan round, delaying Jones and dropping him to sixth.

With much of his stint being interrupted by safety car periods to clear debris from crashes in the GT4 class, Jones couldn’t build a rhythm and eventually pitted for Malvern from eighth at the half-way point.

With Malvern installed, hopes were high that he could replicate the sort of pace he showed during qualifying, but Malvern only managed to complete a handful of laps before the early signs of gearbox trouble forced him back to the pits and into an early retirement.

While it was a sad ending, the weekend still showcased the huge progress Jones, Malvern and the Team Parker Racing crew have made in unlocking the best from the Porsche.

Nick Jones said: “It was a real weekend of two halves for us. On the one hand we made so much progress across Saturday that we have to be pleased with where we are, and we can’t let the gearbox problem overshadow that. Things like that happen in racing. We just deal with it and move on. But overall the weekend was massively positive. We’re definitely moving in the right direction with the car and I’m feeling more and more confident with it. I think this will be a stepping-stone to bigger and better things for us.”

Scott Malvern added: “It was so disappointing to have our weekend end the way it did, especially after the real high of Saturday, but we can’t be too down about the situation. For the first time this season we really looked like we could mix it at the front with the Porsche, and that can only be a positive. The test beforehand was great as it helped me understand the best way to drive the car and we made some setup changes to help, and the pace was better than it has ever been. Nick was just unlucky in his stage of the race and after I took the car over I heard that horrible loud knocking sound that indicates a gearbox problem. I recognised it immediately and pitted before any more damage could be done. It was a real shame, but we go again in a few weeks at Spa-Francorchamps and I’m confident we can come out fighting there as well.”

The next round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship takes place at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on July 24/25.

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