With the late arrival of the new Porsche 992 GT3R to the Team Parker Racing stable, testing opportunities for MPS and their drivers was severely limited ahead of their first race together on their new continental stage.
Fortunately, the Michelin Le Mans Cup organisers had built in the official Pro-Logue test as part of the first race event, which took place at the Barcelona circuit, and MPS and their drivers had an extra day of testing in order to dial in their new Porsche GT3 machine and simultaneously learn the new track.
Once again, MPS’ data driven approach to improving both the car’s and the driver’s on track performance worked efficiently and the team quickly got to the point of Scott Malvern challenging the top of the timing sheets in the GT3 category.
All eyes then turned to the team’s AM driver Nick ‘Jonesy’ Jones who was racing on the Circuit de Catalunya for the first time.
Jonesy improved every time that he went on track and come qualifying, he put the car inside the Top 10 against some much more experienced competitors at an international level.
The race was chaotic from the get go in typical Michelin Le Mans Cup fashion and Jonesy’s opening stint was peppered with safety cars. During the green flag running however, he kept a cool head in his first international championship race and avoided incidents to claim a couple of positions from his place on the starting grid.
A nice strategy call from MPS’ Ben Newman, once again on Race Engineering duties with the squad, saw the team pit just as another safety car was called. The Team Parker Racing mechanics performed flawlessly once again, even with the pressure of this being their first pit stop in a FIA sanctioned event, and MPS’ Ben (acting as car controller) had plenty of safety margin in order to release Pro driver Scott Malvern down an empty pit lane to re-join the second half of the race.
The strategy call had worked out nearly perfectly and the British Silver graded driver found himself in 3rd position in the safety car train after the pit stops played out. Once green flag running was resumed, Scott quickly showed his class as he dispatched the second placed car and set fastest lap after fastest lap in the well balanced Porsche as he chased down the 1st place Aston Martin.
A further safety car period temporarily halted his momentum in pursuit of the top step of the podium but this was allowed to later resume for the final half an hour of the race.
By this point, the Aston Martin’s pro driver had settled into the race and it quickly became evident that the Balance of Performance specifications for the new Porsche machine weren’t quite fair and the Aston Martin demonstrated a sizeable straight line advantage, making it difficult for Scott to challenge for the lead.
Still, Scott drove impeccably, managing the gap to his competitor in 3rd easily and bringing the car home somewhat unbelievably in 2nd place in the team’s first race in a new championship in a new, untested car!
A momentous achievement by all involved and a testament to MPS’ performance and driver development practices.