In the face of difficult odds, SD Sealants pairing Nick Jones and Scott Malvern fought valiantly to secure a useful haul of points from the second round of the British GT Championship at Rockingham last weekend.
Nick and Scott managed to walk away with a fourth-place finish in class after both drivers kept their heads to put in solid drives during a turbulent two-hour race.
The weekend, much like the season-opener at Oulton Park, began wet. Constant rain lashed the Corby track for much of Saturday, leading to very difficult conditions during both practice and qualifying.
Regardless, Nick managed to place the Team Parker Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 third in the GT4 Pro-Am order, and 10th overall. Scott then backed that up to go third fastest overall to mean the car would start seventh overall on combined times, but second of the Pro-Am runners.
However, the race would be hard work with Nick and Scott having an additional 20 seconds added to their minimum pit stop time as a success penalty from their overall race win from Oulton Park.
Nick took the start and produced a great drive, running firmly within the top 10 before finding a rhythm and working his way into the Pro-Am category lead halfway through his opening stint. Nick held off the charging McLarens of both Pro-Am pace-setter Adam Balon and double GT4 Pro-Am champion Graham Johnson.
With two safety car interruptions for other cars hitting trouble, Nick was put under heavy pressure and eventually ceded some ground when a lunge from Balon put his Mercedes off-line and he was then hit and spun by a rival Ginetta.
Nick recovered to hand over to Scott, who managed to pick up a few extra places during his stint, but ultimately his charge was hurt by two further safety car interruptions.
Scott took the flag fourth of the GT4 Pro-Am runners, and 11th overall. The result puts Nick and Scott third in the Pro-Am points and seventh in the overall championship – easily still within striking distance of the top three.
Nick said: “I really enjoyed the weekend, even though it was hard work. But it was great to finally be in the mix, and that’s credit to both Team Parker and the great new Mercedes-AMG, which feels mega.
“Rockingham isn’t my favourite track, and I don’t think it’s the best for the car either, so a fourth place is definitely a decent result. In truth if I hadn’t been taken out and we didn’t have the safety car luck then we could definitely have pushed onto the podium, especially with Scott’s pace in the car.
“We have a great atmosphere on our side of the garage and it’s like going racing with your best mates, which makes everything so much more relaxed and rewarding.”
Scott said: “I always said Rockingham wouldn’t be the strongest track for our car, but to come away with a solid fourth place in Pro-Am keeps us nicely in the title fight, so we can’t complain too much.
“Actually the biggest thing to take from this weekend is the performance of Nick. That was easily one of his best drives. To keep your head under that kind of pressure isn’t easy, and to catch, overtake and then defend from two of the fastest drivers in our class is pretty impressive.
“With the extra time added to our stop and the incident where Nick was spun out we ultimately lost a lap to the overall GT4 leader, and the safety cars made that very difficult to get back again from there. But I was pleased with our pace and I think we’ve got a lot of strong results to look forward to this year based on that performance.”