Jones and Malvern battled their way to 10th place in the seventh round of the championship to at least bag some points from what was otherwise a tough weekend for the entire Team Parker Racing crew.
The pair’s Porsche 911 GT3 R showed flashes of its potential across the weekend, but once again the championship’s balance of performance settings made the event an uphill battle against the rival McLarens.
Having enjoyed a strong test day before the event, the pair made a flying start to the weekend with pro driver Malvern setting the outright fastest time during the opening free practice session with a 2m18.6s lap.
That benchmark wouldn’t even be bettered in the second session, with the fastest car winding up two tenths down. Jones took the wheel of the Porsche for the majority of that second session to maximise his mileage ahead of qualifying.
When it came to qualifying, there was an upset before the session even began when the McLarens were handed both a weight break and some additional turbo boost, essentially putting them down the road along Spa’s long straights.
Jones contested the first segment of qualifying and set his fastest-ever lap time around the 4.5-mile Belgian Grand Prix circuit, putting the car 14th in the order. Malvern then took over and went seventh fastest in his session, meaning the #66 Porsche would start Sunday’s race 13th on the grid on combined times.
With the race at Spa usually always throwing up some drama, the pair stood every chance of moving forward across the two-hour event on Sunday, and that’s exactly what they did thanks to a superb opening stint from Jones.
Fired up, Jones used a great start to pressure the McLarens of both Mia Flewitt and Iain Campbell into La Source, before then using a great exit out of Raidillon to dive past Campbell on the brakes into the Les Combes chicane. Jones then picked off Flewitt to run 11th by the end of the first lap.
Jones worked his way inside the top 10 to run ninth by the time he could stop for Malvern just past half distance. Malvern took over the Porsche and rejoined in 10th, but with three McLarens right in front and no safety cars to bunch the pack across his stint, forward progress was essentially impossible. Malvern did a great job to pull clear of the cars behind to make a top-10 finish secure, and even a frightening puncture at Eau Rouge late in the race couldn’t shake the car from the place.
Nick Jones said: “It’s been another difficult weekend for us sadly, but the race actually went pretty well. I was pleased with my stint and really enjoyed it, getting into the mix and trying to fight the McLarens. We made a few changes to the setup to try and unlock more pace, which had the knock-on effect of making the car a bit trickier to drive, but I definitely felt I was faster through corners like Bruxelles, No Name and Pouhon, but as soon as you get to a straight they just disappear up the road, and you can’t race against that. The tyres also turned to jelly for the last few laps of my stint, which made things hard work, but overall I felt I did a good job. Another top 10 is good as we scored points, but the hard work the team is putting in at the moment really deserves more than we’re getting.”
Scott Malvern added: “The team worked their socks off this weekend to give us a car we could fight with and to score more points is a bonus, but we just don’t seem to be getting much luck beyond that at the moment. Nick made a fantastic start to the race and pulled off a few great passing moves to bring us up the order, which was fantastic to see as he’s driving really well at the moment. But for my stint I just had to try and drive conservatively to make the tyres last, and even then we had a problem near the end, which was a bit of an eye-opener at one of the fastest points of the track. Still, we take the result and move on.”
The result may even improve at a later date as two of the cars that finished ahead of the Porsche were racing under appeal after problems in qualifying, so the race result remains provisional until their case is heard.
The next round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship takes place at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit on September 10/11.