After a torrid run of luck with their Porsche 911 GT3 R since the start of this year’s championship, Jones and Malvern were eager to get back on track for the fourth race of the season at Donington Park – a circuit they’ve been GT3 race winners at previously.
With the Porsche now fully repaired following its gearbox issues during the previous round at Silverstone, both Jones and Malvern made a flying start to the weekend, with the #66 SD Porsche topping the overall lap times during the first session thanks to a terrific effort from pro driver Malvern. The second session didn’t disappoint either as Jones and Malvern wound up third in the times, despite continuing to work through setup options.
Qualifying would be a challenge with the field so tightly packed, plus the strict enforcement of track limits proved an issue for many. Jones had two lap times deleted during his qualifying segment, leaving him to set the 14th fastest lap of the session before Malvern went fourth fastest in his, again despite losing a lap himself. The combined result meant the Team Parker Porsche would line-up 11th on the grid for Sunday’s three-hour race.
The longer race format brought more strategy into play, and Team Parker played a blinder early on. Jones raced hard on the fringes of the top 10 from the start until the safety car was called during the opening hour to clean up debris from a crash between the Barwell and WPI Motorsport Lamborghinis at the Melbourne Hairpin.
With the majority of the field opting to pit immediately, the team ordered Jones to stay out for an extra lap, allowing the pit lane to quieten down and also giving the car more time running at speed before eventually catching the safety car. It worked wonders, and when Jones did stop to hand to Malvern, the car vaulted to third overall when racing resumed.
Malvern then caught and scraped past the 7TSIX McLaren to grab second place, before again relaying to Jones. The second half of the race would get messy though, with Jones being caught in a tangle with both the Barwell Lamborghini and Balfe Motorsport Audi during a frantic three-way fight for position. Then when Malvern took the car over for the run to the flag, the Barwell car intervened again, with pro driver Sandy Mitchell rejoining from his final stop and driving straight into the side of the Porsche as he attempted to shut the door into Redgate corner.
The resulting delays, plus a lack of power during the closing minutes – potentially a result of the damage – eventually meant Malvern took the finish in 10th place. However, after the run of bad luck the team has endured, the result has given them a solid platform to build on.
Nick Jones said: “I really enjoyed the Donington Park weekend. It was just so nice to be back out there after the disappointment of Silverstone and the lads at Team Parker did a great job throughout. The car was quick this weekend and we perhaps deserved more from the race, but we were set back by some messy driving, but I’ll still take a top 10. I need to find a bit more performance from myself, but that comes with time in the car, and we haven’t had enough of that so far this year. Scott’s driving out of his skin at the moment, so hopefully there’s good things on the horizon for us after this.”
Scott Malvern added: “There were a lot of positives from Donington. We got to the end of the race without any serious issues, Nick got quicker as the race weekend went on, and the team did a great job with the setup. We tried a few new things this weekend to get more out of the Pirelli tyres, so it’s unrealistic to expect huge gains straight away and Nick had to adapt his driving a lot to suit the changes. But he did a great job and getting to the finish was a boost in itself. The first half of the race was brilliant and Ben [race engineer] produced a bit of genius with the strategy around the safety car to get us up the order. From then I really enjoyed the fight I had. It was a shame the second half got so messy, especially with the Lamborghini near the end. It wasn’t like I could disappear! The car’s had a few battle scars, but it came through well enough. Hopefully we can go even better at Snetterton.”
The next round of the British GT Championship takes place at Snetterton in Norfolk on June 25/26.