Nick Jones and Scott Malvern endured a frustrating weekend during the latest round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship at Snetterton with the performance of their Porsche 911 GT3 R being blunted compared to their rivals.
While Jones and Malvern came out of the two one-hour sprint races with a top-10 finish for their efforts and with the car in one piece, the balance of performance restrictions placed upon the Team Parker Racing-run Porsche across the weekend made it difficult for the duo to compete on an even footing with those around them.
The weekend began brightly, with the number 66 SD Sealants-backed Porsche performing well during both free practice sessions on Saturday. While Jones used the time to help acclimatise to a track that the team hadn’t tested at before the event, pro driver Malvern showed what he thought was the car’s strong ultimate pace by going third fastest overall in both hour-long sessions.
Things looked promising ahead of qualifying however, when the rest of the GT3 runners dialled things up to reveal their true single-lap pace, the Porsche was simply left behind. Jones’ best effort put him just 15th on the grid for the first race – despite being less than 0.7sec per mile off top spot around one of the longest laps of the season. Salt was rubbed into the wound when Malvern – one of the series’ fastest drivers – could manage only 13th fastest, 1.2sec off the pole-sitting Mercedes-AMG.
It was clear from then that the races would be hard work and, even though series officials added weight and sensor tweaks to try and slow the runaway Mercedes that packed the front of the field, the damage had already been done and the Porsche would still struggle against the more powerful McLarens around it.
Regardless, Jones and Malvern managed to make forward progress in both races. With Jones fighting his way into the top 10 in the first race, only for Malvern to be delayed by another car in a busy pit lane. The duo would eventually wind up 12th at the flag after also being slapped with a harsh time penalty for some contact during the race.
Race two brought a better result, albeit one still short of the pair’s expectations. Malvern kept things clean during his opening stint but struggled to make much progress against cars that were so much faster along Snetterton’s straights. He pitted for Jones with 20 minutes of the race remaining and from then Jones fought hard to secure a ninth-place finish, which at least netted some points from the event.
Nick Jones said: “It’s clear that we didn’t have much of a chance this weekend, but overall I think the team still did a fantastic job, and I was happy with my own driving and was probably closer to Scott’s performance in terms of technique than I ever have been. The problem is it’s hard to get that sort of thing noticed on the outside when the car was restricted like it was. It was a shame as everybody in the team worked so hard to find a solution to the issues we were struggling with, and we knew we were on the back foot as many other teams have either tested or raced here already this season. Regardless I was happy with my driving, didn’t make any mistakes and still enjoyed myself. I just hope we start getting some breaks sooner rather than later.”
Scott Malvern added: “To be honest I think this weekend was an insult to everybody who worked on this car. Everybody else seems to be on a level playing field but for us the balance of performance settings at this circuit were clearly way off so we couldn’t fight against anything out there. You could drive the Porsche perfectly and get better corner exits than anybody in front, but then be six car lengths behind by the end of the next straight. We can’t compete with that and it showed in qualifying and in both races. Nick actually did a great job this weekend and made very few errors, which is a silver lining and we managed to bag a top-10 to finish the weekend, which was realistically all we could hope for. We have to hope something changes in time for the next round.”
The next round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship takes place at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium across the weekend of July 23/24.