Nick Jones and Scott Malvern again showed their fighting spirit on a Sunday by delivering a near-flawless drive to finish ninth in the British GT Championship’s showpiece Silverstone 500 event last weekend.
Jones and Malvern recovered from a difficult Saturday aboard the SD Sealants-backed Team Parker Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R to sweep into the top-10 during the biggest race of the season, with both drivers producing brilliantly consistent stints to climb up the order.
The Silverstone weekend began on a high note, as Jones and Malvern finished the opening free practice session seventh fastest of the 31 runners before experimenting with setup changes in the second to try and find more pace from their Porsche.
A tweak to the rear anti-roll bar for qualifying had the undesired effect of making the car slide more during the session, meaning the pair would line up 15th on their combined lap times for the three-hour race.
Undeterred, the team went back on the setting for the race, prioritising consistency across the three hours over outright speed, and it proved a key decision.
Jones took the start and immediately made up ground, taking advantage of others hitting trouble during the early stages to move up the order. He then got stuck into a fight with Bonamy Grimes’ TF Sport Aston Martin and Shamus Jennings’ G-Cat Racing Porsche.
After the opening 40 minutes, Jones dived into the pits for the first of the car’s three mandatory pit stops to hand across to pro driver Malvern, who immediately lit up the timing screens with the fastest lap of the race upon rejoining.
Malvern’s pace was such that he was able to recover a lot of ground during the first round of stops, running as high as fifth overall by the time he handed back to Jones at the halfway mark. Jones’ second stint was made tougher by the car having to serve a drive-through penalty for straying beyond track limits during the recovery, but once he’d served that Jones kept things clean to hand back to Malvern for the final time with just over 40-minutes of the race remaining.
With the penalty dropping the SD Porsche off the lead lap, Malvern couldn’t make too much more progress across the closing stages, also not helped by a bit of damage to the Porsche’s front-left wheel arch affecting the car’s aerodynamic performance. Regardless, he still showed a clean pair of heels to both Stewart and Lewis Proctor’s Balfe Motorsport McLaren, and the championship-leading WPI Lamborghini of factory driver Phil Keen to secure ninth at the flag.
While ninth was a respectable finish in itself, due to a number of non-championship guest entries joining for the Silverstone 500, Jones and Malvern actually scored points for sixth place, mirroring their score from the opening round at Brands Hatch. It means Jones and Malvern sit sixth in the GT3 drivers’ championship.
Nick Jones said: “I’m really happy with the way the race went. Saturday wasn’t the best but we’re all learning as we go with a brand-new car this year, so part of that is experimenting with the setup and seeing what works and what doesn’t. The team are doing a brilliant job and I know there are a few key areas of my driving that I’m going to work on to improve, but we’re certainly not far away as it is. I just focused on keeping things neat and tidy during my stints, which I managed to do, but most of all I just wanted to enjoy being out there in such a great car – and I certainly did that! This year is a bit of a reset from 2020 as we are starting from scratch in a way, but we’re scoring good points on a Sunday, and that’s what really matters.”
Scott Malvern added: “We had a much better balance in the car for the race, and it really showed. The first two stints went really well for us and I was able to make a lot of progress during my first outing in the car. My engineer Ben even radioed me to say I was the fastest car on track and the TV crew had switched my cockpit camera on, so I found time to give them a cheeky wave! For the second half of the race we struggled a bit. Obviously, the penalty didn’t help but I think we’d hit a chunk of tyre debris somewhere which broke the louvre vent off the wheel arch and that definitely had an effect. But even with that we fought to a strong result and again scored some good points. We’re learning every time we go out and we almost need some of these things to go wrong so we understand how to improve. I’m really happy with the progress we’re making, and I can’t wait to get going again in two weeks’ time.”
The next round takes place at Donington Park on 10/11 July, and the pair will be keen to get going again in Derbyshire, which was the scene of their breakthrough GT3 victory aboard a Bentley Continental GT3 last season.