After a flying start to the season in Barcelona, the SD teams-backed duo endured a difficult last round at Le Mans, where their Team Parker Racing-run Porsche 992 GT3 R was hobbled by a serious lack of straight-line pace under the Balance of Performance rules for the event.
The slipstream effect on the long straights of the Circuit de la Sarthe meant the Porsche was largely a sitting duck in both Road to Le Mans races, but Jones and Malvern nevertheless managed to fight to two points scores, meaning they held on to third place in the drivers’ championship heading into round three at Circuit Paul Ricard.
The Southern French circuit represents a new challenge for the pair, with its flowing 3.6-mile layout putting both the drivers and the cars to the test. The track’s mixture of medium- and high-speed turns – plus its reputation for hosting world-class test and development work for some of the world’s biggest manufacturers and championships – puts it into the same bracket as the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, which opened the season. The Porsche fared well during that event, with Jones and Malvern scoring their first Le Mans Cup podium finish with a superb second place.
With the track being a much more known quantity than Le Mans, both drivers are hoping for a return to frontrunning form this weekend.
“I’m really looking forward to getting out on track at the Circuit Paul Ricard as it’s felt like a long wait since our last races at Le Mans. Ricard is a really interesting circuit, and one I haven’t driven since we last ran the Bentley there, way back in 2020… but we’ll have plenty of track time across the event to familiarise ourselves with the layout. It’s no secret the Road to Le Mans races were disappointing for us, but the whole team worked really hard and we still came away with some points, so it could have been far worse. Hopefully the BoP will be more favourable for us this weekend and we can get back to fighting for the big points up front.”
“I’m a fan of the Circuit Paul Ricard. I know it has its critics but I’ve always really enjoyed driving there and this weekend I hope it will be a good opportunity for us to really get into the mix. The track is very forgiving with its big runoff areas, but the stripes are actually high-friction paint, so going off risks wrecking your tyres pretty quickly. Keeping things clean in the race will be key, as always. From what we’ve seen so far this year there aren’t many among the Am drivers that are doing a better job than Nick, and we should have been well within the top four at Le Mans, but for the huge lack of power we had down the Mulsanne. But Le Mans is a very unique track and hopefully we’ll be on more of a par this weekend. I have no doubt the crew at Team Parker Racing will give us a competitive car, and I’d like to think we can go in with eyes some big points, and maybe even another podium.”
The third round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup at Circuit Paul Ricard near Le Castellet gets underway with testing on Thursday before free practice on Friday. Qualifying takes place at 12:25 CEST on Saturday, ahead of the 110-minute race at 17:10. The race will be streamed live via the Le Mans Cup YouTube channel, with live timing available at lemanscup.com.