Jones and Malvern brought home a ninth-place finish aboard the Team Parker Racing Porsche 992 GT3 R, which at least bagged enough points to keep the pair running fifth in the championship, despite a challenging weekend at Motorland Aragon.
With temperatures approaching the 40s, the Spanish sun made for a gruelling event, with cockpit conditions reaching in excess of 50 degrees at times. Regardless, the two drivers pressed on and Malvern showed a glimpse of the Porsche’s potential by setting the third-fastest time during second practice.
However, when their rivals really showed their hand in qualifying, with the pole time eventually winding up a fell second faster than anybody had shown during second practice, it became clear the race would be a battle.
Due to the series’ Balance of Performance rules the new Porsche runs over 40kg heavier than any other GT3 car on the grid, and with less power to boot. Jones still managed to haul the car to the eight-fastest time in qualifying, which was a positive start.
But that’s where things got tricky. Jones made a good start as he looked to make up early ground, but was showed wide at turn one while having to avoid a multi-car clash between the LMP3 field ahead. That set Jones back to 10th, and then his progress was hindered by a string of safety car periods of prototypes that had become beached in Aragon’s gravel.
Things were then compounded when the car was handed a drive-through penalty for a start procedure infringement. Jones served the penalty right away, following the Steller Motorsport Audi which had fallen foul of the same thing, but both cars were soon back in for crossing the white line on pit exit, earning a second drive-through.
Those knocked the team out of contention, and left Pro driver Malvern in a private scrap with Sennan Fielding in the Steller Audi for eighth. Malvern fought hard to fend off Fielding, but ultimately could do nothing against the Audi’s weight and power advantage, crossing the line in ninth after a physically draining contest.
Nick Jones said: “There’s no hiding that we’re disappointed with that weekend, it feels like kit got away from us. It’s clear the car is being badly held back, but ultimately the first penalty wrecked our race before we even really got going. Then the second one was just bad luck as I was following the Audi closely out of the pits and we both fell foul of the line. From then on it was damage limitation. The heat made it a very physical challenge across the first stint, but it actually hit you worse when we got out of the car and the adrenaline subsided and you couldn’t get away from it. Still, the team did a great job as usual, and Scott pushed as hard as he could. We’ll keep fighting.”
Scott Malvern added: “The weekend was a tough one to take. It’s frustrating because we’re still not really sure what the first penalty was for, that killed our race early on and then the combination of the second penalty and the timings of the safety cars put us a lap down and there’s not much we could do from there. It doesn’t feel like a very fair fight right now with BoP, but we managed the tyres well and had some decent pace toward the end, plus the guys worked so hard on the car – wearing full fireproofs was not fun in 40-degree heat! We’ll reset and come out fighting again at Spa-Francorchamps.”
The next round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup takes place at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on September 22/23.