A busy weekend for Team Parker Racing which saw the team operating at the top level in both the east and south of the UK, saw both success and suffering for the Leicestershire team. In Norfolk and the British GT Championship, the full range of emotions came in the form of a second place for the GT3 effort and a puncture from the lead for the GT4.
GT4: Heartbreak for Malvern and Jones.
While Nick Jones struggled in qualfying, placing 35th of 36 entries on the grid for the first race, Scott Malvern blasted to pole with a new qualifying lap record.
The first race saw forward movement with first Jones then Malvern avoiding the carnage and climb to 23rd place, 10th in class. It was the second race which really showed the impressive pace of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 however. Starting from the front row, Scott Malvern built an amazing 35 second lead in his stint, handing over control to Jones a 25 second lead after the stops.
All this was despite a gearbox problem which caused issues with third to fifth gears.
The #66 Mercedes-AMG continued to lead all the way to the final laps of the race when disaster struck. A right rear puncture left the car limping back to the pits. The team completed a late stop to change the tyre and sent the Mercedes back out but it was not to be. The race leader crossed the line as the Team Parker Racing machine was still in the pit lane, prompting the chequered flag and denying Jones the chance to make up some places.
“It is hard to talk about it,” Jones explained. “Today was one of the hardest races I’ve had. We had big problems in the car, struggling with third, fourth, and fifth, changing up, so 50% of each lap was compromised. To manage it for as long as we did and to then get a puncture at the end – that is what has done me. The puncture could have happened at any time, but I tried so hard throughout my stint to keep going. I was on the radio all the time and trying everything I knew and the guys told me my lap times were good. I had no idea when the car might stop but the guys kept me going.
“I am gutted, there are clichés but it doesn’t feel good. To work for years with Scott – he did a great stint – and for it not to work out is gutting. After race one the team did what they had to as well. I don’t know where the puncture came from, the guys said it might have come from being run off the track, but what do I know? I just know it happened.”
Malvern added, “I am gutted to be that close – three minutes last time, a minute this time. On the other side I am really pleased: the team repaired the car between races, so to go out and dominate like that in the first stint was what I needed to do. I didn’t need to in the end – I built that gap because I thought it was what Nick would need but he didn’t. He held the gap, even with the issues he was controlling, I just wish the race was two minutes shorter.
“There was no warning with the puncture. In hindsight I think it potentially came when the GT3 BMW nearly crashed into us and we went off track to avoid it. Nick had an ongoing gearbox issue throughout his stint, struggling to get into third and fourth gear, but his times were respectable even with the issue. I can’t fault Nick at all. He did exactly the job we needed him needed to do both at Oulton Park and here. The win has got to happen. It’s got to come sooner or later!”
GT3: Podium Sucess for Geddie and Ratcliffe
For Ryan Ratcliffe and Glyn Geddie Snetterton was much more generous. The Bentley Continental GT3 they share started the first race of the day in fourth place after qualifying by Geddie. In the opening phase of the race, while competitors were crashing, the #7 Bentley shot from the second row the lead and built a margin of eight seconds by the time the stops began.
A slower than expected pit stop brought Ratcliffe out in fourth place, which he quickly converted into second place. Despite pressure from AMR pro Jonny Adam and the JRM run Continenal GT3 of Seb Morris, Geddie held out to take the second step of the podium.
In the second race, Ratcliffe was given a 10 second stop and go penalty for a grid infringement. The team were delayed in preparing the car on the grid and it was still on its air-jacks when the three minute board was held up. This is a breach of the regulations. with a relatively long pit lane, plus the ten second hold and the success seconds applied after their podium for race 2, the crew badly needed a safety car to get back on terms with the competition. None were forthcoming so the crew placed 13th of 13 GT3 cars in the second race.
Glyn Geddie said, “Race one was good, but it should have been a win. We made a mistake in the pit stop and lost 11 seconds and we finished 14 seconds behind the leader, so we could, and should have won it. That said, Ryan managed to defend the place really well.
“The second race was tough. It was impossible – we were catching people two to three seconds a lap. To have the results we had at Oulton, improve our pace here, and to have a bad result is disappointing. Things are moving in the right direction. Qualifying was partially the team and me and things need to come together. We had a little hiccup but we can do better next time.”
Ratcliffe added, “I was super nervous before I got in the car in race one. Glynn brought it in in the lead and the pressure was on me to keep it there. With the Pros hounding you down every lap it is a tough ask. It was really, really hard but there was no point in that race where I wanted to bring the car in. It was hard but enjoyable – one of the best races I have ever done. It was on a par with Spa last year. I’ve gained so much more confidence I believe I can hold the Pros off and take it to them. I was a bit slower but I was looking in my mirrors a bit too much.
“Glynn and I were saying that is it typical it is the one race we needed a Safety Car in was race two and we didn’t get it. Glynn’s pace at the end was two and a half seconds quicker than anyone, so we’d have had a chance. Motorsport comes with the highs and the lows. It is one of those things. We go into Silverstone now with no success penalty and that’s a race we want to do really well in – we want to win that one overall.”