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Turning things around at Silverstone

12th June 2018

Endurance racing has a funny way of turning fortunes around. One minute things can look bleak, and then the next your luck can be in. SD Sealants driver pairing Nick Jones and Scott Malvern rode that rollercoaster of emotions in the latest British GT event at Silverstone.

Last weekend’s three-hour Silverstone 500 showpiece swung from disaster to fortune for the crew of the number 66 Team Parker Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4. After a trying first hour, the pair managed to keep their heads as all those around them in the championship lost theirs, turning what looked like a big points loss, into a real gain.

Nick and Scott’s weekend started brightly, with the pair putting the Mercedes-AMG top of the overall GT4 timesheets during first practice, while working to hone the car’s setup ahead of the longest race of the year.

At the start line at Silverstone GT

During qualifying, Nick finished his session as the third-fastest Amateur driver, giving Scott a solid foundation to work on for the Pro element. Scott improved to third-fastest overall, and second of the Pro-Am pairings to ensure the car would start second in Pro-Am and sixth overall.

Despite a curious lack of straight-line speed compared to the second Mercedes-AMG on the grid, things looked promising for the race.

Nick Jones getting into car at Silverstone GT

Nick took the start and held a top-five spot in the Pro-Am order for his first stint, before handing over to Scott shortly before the hour mark. However, things then went awry when the door handle of the usually sturdy Mercedes-AMG detached during the driver change. The fault caught the attention of the Team Parker engineers, who hurried to fix it, but the surprise had the knock-on effect of Scott being released from the pits with a wheel not correctly attached.

The officials took a dim view of the incident and handed the car a 10-second stop-go penalty, in addition to an extra stop to tighten the wheel and secure the door. It dropped the car well down the order, but with two hours left both Nick and Scott drove superbly to recover.

On the track at silverstone GT

With their main championship rivals involved in early accidents and enduring mechanical issues, the Mercedes-AMG ran like clockwork for the remainder of the race, with Nick and Scott finishing up fourth in the Pro-Am order. But, with one of the cars ahead of them running as a guest entry and not scoring points, the result was a podium in championship terms.

The result means they leave Silverstone sitting second in the GT4 Pro-Am standings, just three points down on the leading UltraTek Nissan and enjoying a useful 10-point buffer over the third-placed Balfe McLaren with three races to go.

Racing at Silverstone GT

Nick said: “This race was a perfect example of if you don’t give up, good things can happen. It was a very tough weekend indeed. We thought we had an issue with the car as the times our competitors were setting didn’t make sense sometimes, and after some investigation Mercedes-AMG are on the case.

“The pit stop was where it almost all went wrong. To have the door handle come off was completely random, and then the team’s mistake was just one of those things. I can’t blame the guys, we win and lose together. But what counts more is we kept things clean after that, ticked off the laps and got our reward. With most of our main championship rivals hitting far bigger issues than we had, it’s turned out to be a very positive result.”

Meet and greet at Silverstone GT

Scott said: “Silverstone was a character-building race for us. We didn’t quite have the pace in qualifying, and hopefully Mercedes-AMG will find the answer to that particular question soon. But in the race the car felt good over a stint and we were competitive. It was a shame we lost time in the first stop, but it’s just one of those things. We’ll definitely take that result for the championship though.”

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