Four years after making his GT racing debut in a Porsche Cayman Clubsport, Scott Malvern will finally get the opportunity to prove himself in the highly-competitive British GT3 class – but admitted it was close to not happening.
Malvern – a multiple single-seater champion – has been setting the GT4 class alight alongside long-time friend and co-driver Nick Jones, winning the Pro-Am title in 2018 before their first outright GT4 victory at last year’s Silverstone 500.
It was that success that convinced the pair to make the step up in class and take on the GT3 field.
“Nick has worked hard to get this deal done. In reality, I didn’t actually think we’d be able to do GT3,” Scott said. “I’m massively fortunate to do any racing, let alone GT3, in any sort of GT car, so this is just an incredible deal. For Nick, he is keen to see where he stacks up.
“He drove some really good races and he was mixing it with the Silvers no problem right at the sharp-end. We drove a much better season, we just didn’t get the results. I think that was kind of what drove him to sort of look to go up again because he felt like he was doing everything he could in GT4.
“In reality, it’s not realistic to expect Nick to beat the Silver drivers, we got the overall win at Silverstone but in the short races – the one-hour and two-hour races – it’s more difficult to overcome that deficit to the Silvers.”
The pair will be sticking with Team Parker Racing for their graduation – a team that has experience of both GT3 racing and has run the pair since they joined British GT with a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport in 2017.
It’s that familiarity that Scott Malvern believes will be of help to them while learning the GT3 ropes, with the same crew that has worked with them the last three years remaining on hand to engineer the Bentley.
He added: “There’s five or six of us there and we’ve been together for three, four years now, this will be our fourth year now I think and that crew has not changed. We had a really good time.
“That’s the great thing about this deal, I’m massively pleased to go into GT3 but I’m pleased to be staying with the same bunch of guys because we have such a good time at the race weekends. That’s kind of what is the most important part of it, it’s got to be enjoyable – especially for Nick – he’s footing the bill and the main reason for him to do it is for enjoyment.
“As a group, we have a really good time, we have a good relationship there and we all hang out away from the track as well so it’s all – it just works well. The whole dynamic is really good and there’s a long-standing relationship with Stuart [Parker] as well so we all know each other’s what we want, what we don’t want so it’s just a seamless transition.”
The other consistency is his remaining with Nick Jones for what will be the seventh season, since the pair joined forces in the Radical SR3 Challenge in 2014 – Scott Malvern’s first full sportscar season after an early career that featured championship titles in British Formula Ford and Formula Renault BARC.
It was Nick who was very much the driving force behind the move up – ‘he pushes himself every few years to jump up to something new’ – despite, in Scott’s words, having little interest in any motorsport other than what he’s competing in.
“He’s super-keen, he just loves going racing on the weekends,” he said. “It always shocks me because he’s got zero interest in any other motorsport!
“When we decided to go in the Radicals, he’d never seen a Radical or driven one or anything. He just phoned me out of the blue and said ‘do you want to go racing?’ That was just completely natural – he just bought a Radical and we went Radical racing.
“Then, we did about a year-and-a-half of that and he just turned around to me and said ‘Erm, I’m going to go and test a GT car.’ Just like completely out of the blue, never spoke about GT before in any shape or form. I said ‘Have you ever been to a GT race’ and he said ‘Never. Never been to a GT race before in my life.’ He just went and tested a car and thought ‘Hmm, not quite sure about this.’ And then at the end of that year, he just went and bought a Porsche!
“His first race in British GT in 2016 at Brands was the first GT race he had ever entered. That’s what he’s like! It’s kind of the same… he bought the Porsche knowing nothing about it, liked the look of it, bought it and went racing. Obviously, we ended up racing the Ginetta at the start [because of a delay in getting the Porsche delivered] and then obviously Mercedes came along, got that, and it’s kind of the same thing now.”
Their long-term partnership has allowed some good-natured bantering and needling to come into the relationship, with one well-known story about Nick’s pace at Donington – which has quickly made the rounds in the British GT paddock – typifying how much they enjoy racing with each other.
Scott explains: “Donington is his favourite track, he’s done so many laps of the place it’s like he knows what to do. I normally go out during a test or in FP1 or something, I’ll just go out and set what I think is a realistic target for him to chase. Not necessarily a full push lap, what I normally do is put a time in the car in FP1 that I think Nick will be able to beat in quali, so that’s kind of the level I’m going for. So, he’ll get close to it in FP1, but with new tyres and low fuel in quali, it should give him something in the dash to be pretty competitive.
“He went out at Donington at the June one, and he went out in FP1 and he was quicker than me through Redgate! It’s the first time he’s been quicker than me through any corner in six years and he’s just like dining out on it for the rest of the year. Never, ever, going to hear the end of it, and I’m sure I won’t!
“That’s the character he is, that joke is like it’s going to run and run. It’s a wind up in the team, whenever I make a mistake it’s just going to be that every time!”
It’s the same story with the team, with the banter flowing freely around the crew each weekend, which removes a lot of pressure that other drivers might feel throughout the season.
“We’re not worried about having to impress the team manager or the team engineer or ‘we don’t want to do that in case I look like an idiot.’ There’s nothing… we can’t hide from this group, there’s just relentless piss-taking,” Scott commented.
“You just ride with it! I get grief on the radio during the race! It was funny at Spa in 2018, we were there with the European GT4s as well and the head of the AMG GT4 programme came to that race – it was the first race he came to.
“All the crew were winding me up by saying ‘You’ve got to really impress this guy this weekend, no fuck up!’ And I was like ‘Yeah, alright got it’ and we were having like a bit of fun with him and trying to make out that we’re going to be the fastest GT4 car all weekend guaranteed, every session because we just ran parallel with that Euro series and every time we did a practice, they did a practice one after the other.
“Andy Meyrick was in the GT4 Merc and there were a few others like AKKA, and it was just like, every session and in the race and I was just pushing. Our engineer was saying ‘Oh, I’m just stood next to Marco and he said you need to do this time’ and I’m like right okay! We have a bit of fun and I really enjoy the race weekends.”
That said, Scott Malvern is serious about one thing – and that’s progressing as a professional racing driver. With other British GT stars, notably champions Jonny Adam and Seb Morris – as well as Formula E star Alexander Sims and Lamborghini factory driver Phil Keen, all moving into top drives Scott is targeting the same sort of progression.
His plan has been given another boost by Team Parker running Bentley’s Motorsport Academy, which is supporting up-and-coming stars by sticking them in a Continental for the full GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup.
He added: “My goal has always been to be a professional racing driver and the sort of pinnacle in GTs is to become associated with a manufacturer. Parker has got a great relationship with Bentley, they’re now running the Bentley Motorsport Academy so I’m hopeful that now if I can do in GT3 what I did in GT4 and just go out and give the performance every weekend and try and be fastest in my quali session and the fastest average stint as well, that kind of starts to make people notice.
“I had a little bit of interest last year with Mercedes, but a lot is going on there and obviously people don’t really take GT4 that seriously it would seem – especially manufacturers. It’s almost like starting again now for me, now we’re in GT3 maybe people will start taking some notice, maybe they won’t – we’ll see!
“I try to utilise the race weekends the best I can, but the right people are not always at those weekends so my results are the only thing that can do the talking if you like. Hopefully, people pick up on a few bits and pieces and I might get a few messages and a few phone calls going and we’ll see what happens.”
The first round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship kicks off at Oulton Park on the Easter weekend of the 11th -13th April.