SD Sealants-backed racers Nick Jones and Scott Malvern enjoyed their most successful Intelligent Money British GT Championship round of the season at Oulton Park last weekend, scoring two top-five finishes and a historic pole position.
Coming off the back of troubled rounds at both Spa-Francorchamps and Snetterton, both drivers were determined to get back into the mix during the penultimate round of the season, and the Team Parker Racing-run Porsche 911 GT3 R didn’t disappoint.
The car looked quick right from the start of the event, with Malvern and Jones finishing inside the top three in first practice, before going seventh fastest in the second session while fine-tuning setup.
That set things up for qualifying, with each driver’s fastest time setting the grid positions for the pair of one-hour sprint races on Sunday. Jones bagged 10th on the grid for race one, before Malvern emerged on top of an ultra-tight scrap for race two pole in the pro driver session, beating Dennis Lind’s Barwell Lamborghini by 0.005sec. The result marked both Jones and Malvern’s first pole position of the season, but also Porsche’s first British GT pole since 2013.
Race one was all about forward momentum, and Jones took the start for the dry opening sprint. After some early dicing, Jones settled into a rhythm on the back of a tight fight for fifth place, eventually bringing the Porsche into the pits in seventh to hand across to Malvern. Some slick pit work from the Team Parker crew got Malvern back out in fifth place, and from there he charged onto the tail of Martin Plowman’s Paddock Motorsport Bentley, inheriting fourth when Plowman was handed a time penalty for track limits abuse. That may have meant fourth place on the road but, with the race-winning Mercedes being a non-points-scoring guest entry, it was as good as a podium finish in terms of championship points.
The rain arrived for race two, with the field lining up on a soaked circuit, something that usually plays into the hands of the traction-rich Porsche. However, a slight miscalculation on tyre pressures would have an impact.
Malvern got away well from pole to head Lind’s Lamborghini and set about forging a gap back to the pack. However, with his tyres starting to overheat after a few laps, Malvern was unable to escape as much as he’d have liked. His efforts were then hampered by a safety car called right as the pit window opened to clear a stranded Mercedes.
The entire field pitted as one, and although Malvern brought the Porsche back in the race lead, Jones would rejoin third after serving the extra five-second success penalty the crew earned for scoring third-place points in race one.
With lots of standing water and tortured tyres, Jones did well to hang on to the car for the final half of the race, eventually crossing the line a solid fifth. While it may not have been a podium, it still showed a great return to form for the SD team.
Nick Jones said: “I really enjoyed the weekend at Oulton Park and it felt so good to be back in the mix with the Porsche again, especially after the disappointment of the last few rounds. We made some really good progress with the setup and balance in the dry, and Scott really showed the car’s potential in his qualifying. I know I need to work on that cutting-edge single-lap pace myself to make sure we start further up, and we’ll be working on that. Race two was tricky and I don’t think we really nailed the setup – whether it was tyres or whatever – but we seemed to lack a bit of grip. I made a few mistakes and suffered with aquaplaning a fair bit, so the podium was just beyond our reach. But still, two top-five finishes in a championship this tight is always a good result.”
Scott Malvern added: “Overall Oulton was a very positive weekend for us, and the best for us yet in terms of results. It was great to be competing at the sharp end and I’m really chuffed to be the driver to score Porsche’s first British GT pole for almost a decade. It shows how far we’ve come this year, but we’re still fighting a bit of an uphill battle against the more experienced teams, and that definitely showed in race two. Race one was good and Nick put in a superb stint to stick with the pack, and then I did all I could in my stint. I think we went a bit too high on the tyre pressures for race two because the pace was great at the start, but started dropping off after a few laps, and the car was a bit of a handful when Nick took over, so fifth was actually a good result – especially as that’s only the third or fourth time we’ve run the Porsche in the wet! We’ve still got work to do, but I’m confident we can end the season on a high at Donington next month.”
The final round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship takes place at Donington Park on October 16/17.