Consistency is a key element in endurance racing, and Nick Jones and Scott Malvern proved the best of the bunch at outlasting their opponents at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend to secure their second British GT4 Pro-Am victory of the year, and with it the championship lead.
In a turbulent two-hour race at the world-famous home of the Belgian Grand Prix, the SD Sealants-backed pairing put in two stellar drives and rode their luck to take top spot in class and a sensational fifth overall in the Team Parker Racing-run Mercedes-AMG GT4.
The weekend started strongly with both Nick and Scott showing promising long-run pace in both practice sessions. However, Nick’s qualifying effort was disrupted by a lengthy stoppage for an accident for a rival McLaren. It left Nick with little time to get his best lap in, meaning he could only go 12th fastest. Scott was fourth fastest in the Pro session, meaning the car would start 11th overall and third in the Pro-Am Class order.
Nick had his work cut out from there, but put in a strong opening stint of over an hour to gradually climb up the order, taking advantage of incidents for his rivals. The Balfe Motorsport McLaren was taken out of a sizable lead by contact, and the Pro-Am championship-leading UltraTek Nissan of Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman was also damaged. But Nick kept his nose clean to snatch the class lead before handing over to Scott for the final part of the race.
Scott rejoined with a healthy advantage in the Pro-Am order, running an impressive sixth overall. Things were further aided when a safety car was called just as the team had pitted, which meant Scott picked up the tail of the leading pack.
For a breathless final 20 minutes Scott repeatedly attacked the cars in front and, on the penultimate lap was locked in a tight fight for fourth overall with a Century Motorsport BMW M4. Scott took the chequered flag in a superb fifth, miles clear of the other Pro-Am opposition.
The result gave Nick and Scott their first on-track win of the year. Even though they were pronounced winners of the second race of the season at Oulton Park, that result was awarded after the weekend, as the original race had been rained off after a handful of laps, meaning they never got to take to the podium.
Nick and Scott now lead the GT4 Pro-Am Championship by 7.5 points from Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman, who did manage to nurse their dented Nissan home a distant third in class.
“That was a total dream result. To stand on the top of the podium at a place like Spa-Francorchamps is just so special. It was great to take that result for the team, which has worked so hard. It was vindication for all of the work and time and effort spent to bring this all together. Moments like that make motor racing.
“My qualifying was about my only mistake all weekend. I wasn’t happy with my lap and made a few mistakes, but then I had good pace in the Sunday morning warm-up and that gave me a lot of confidence. In the race I just kept it clean and we got a bit lucky. I had to concentrate so hard when the team came on the radio toward the end of my stint telling me I was P1 in class!”
“What a result that was for us and the team. It was just mega. Nick drove brilliantly all weekend and in the race his consistency just shone through. Admittedly we rode our luck a bit, with our biggest rivals having issues and the safety car helping to bunch things up for me, but we still had to push like crazy to be in the mix. Our strategy of staying out an extra lap to get a clear pit lane really worked out.
“Ultimately, we lacked the traction and acceleration of the McLarens this weekend – they gained a second on us in sector one each time, so I just couldn’t quite get past to go for the overall podium, but we can’t complain about winning our class. This is the time of the season when the big points count the most, and it’s great to be in control with two races to go.”