Nick Jones is probably on the shortlist for the surprise announcement of 2021 award when this week he announced that along with co-driver Scott Malvern and Team Parker Racing, he would be bringing a Porsche 911 GT3R entry to the Intelligent Money British GT championship, the first full-season GT3 Porsche entry since 2014.
Having contested 2020, his first in GT3, in a Bentley — the highlight being an overall victory at Donington Park in August — and after winning the GT4 Pro-Am championship in 2018 in a Mercedes-AMG GT4 it seemed likely he would stick with the Bentley or maybe head back to Mercedes with the ever popular AMG GT3.
Instead, Jones has gone to Porsche, a welcome move considering the glaring lack of Stuttgart’s finest in British GT despite the brand’s recent successes in global GT3 racing. Having started GT racing in a Cayman GT4 back in 2016, it perhaps shouldn’t be a great surprise that Jones has been lured back.
Jones is adamant that it was simply decided as the best way forward, which displays some confidence in the marque as he is yet to actually drive the car.
“I’ve driven a variety of GT3 cars,” says Jones. “But I haven’t tested the Porsche, I haven’t even sat in it.
“I tested a Mercedes GT3 two years ago but I think I was just drawn to Porsches. When I first started my GT racing I did two years in a Cayman so I think I’m drawn to that brand more over than anything else.
“So, we’re just going to get cracking with it pretty soon after the launch day hence that’s why we’re pushing it through now because I think we’re going to be testing it soon so might as well get it out there.
“It’s a great car, we’re lucky to get hold of one. I’m well happy with it.”
The fact that the car is brand new is another revelation but Jones is quick to give credit where it is due.
“I can’t take any credit for that I’m afraid! That was down to Stuart [Parker, Team Parker Racing boss] and his connections. I’m really pleased I got a new car out of Porsche.
“I think we probably weren’t looking at Porsche before because we didn’t think we’d have the opportunity to get hold of one. With Stuart, or Team Parker, able to source something for us meant we could pull it together that it could work for Stuart and also the team and also give us an opportunity to drive a car that certainly Scott will be competitive in.”
Whilst the cars change, Jones is keen to see continuity elsewhere within the team, the relationship built with Team Parker and Scott Malvern is the ever present constant. This all help to make the transition into a new car that much easier.
“My relationship with Stuart and the team is purely from my British GT experience. As a team, continuity for me is really important in my business life and also motorsport. I really enjoy working with the guys and I think it was almost like it ended up to be a perfect fit. I think how it all came together was pretty much like that.
“This’ll be my fourth different car – well fifth with Scott and fourth with Team Parker – it’s the machinery that changes so everything else remains constant. So I’ve got the benefit of working with some top people in Scott and the engineers, I don’t really have to think too much about anything that those guys sort out.
“Then it’s a constant battle with reminding me of what I’m supposed to be doing and how I’m supposed to be driving etc. etc. but that’s all part of the fun from our side, and the challenge of course! It’s a challenge for those guys, and it makes it interesting for me. I love it, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing than going round a track, and doing it with those guys makes it really good fun. It’s only a small team but we have a great time.
“I think the team know that I’m my biggest critic and I do put myself under a bit of pressure but a part of dealing with that is sort of recognising where you are with your experience. I’m very lucky that I can’t look at the team and question that, and I can’t look at Scott. Basically, I’m the weakest link, so the better that I can turn up and race, the better we should perform as a team. That’s the challenge, and I enjoy the challenge.
“I’m still learning GT3 but I’m going to have to run out of excuses pretty soon! I’m going to give it a great shot and we do have a lot of fun, obviously it’s competitive but it is great fun to do it. I’m just glad the partnership can carry on between me and Scott and Team Parker, I’ve got a lot of friends there – it’s all good.”
Fun seems to be the driving motivation for 2021 — and Jones is mostly looking to just enjoy himself — but doesn’t see why that should detract from the team’s competitiveness, indeed he sees it as an advantage.
“With the back drop of all the things that’s been going on Corona-wise I think expectations are to just have a lot of fun. I think if we’re having fun, I think it will mean that we are being competitive and if we’re competitive — whether we’re at the front at the start… I would imagine that as the season progresses I’d like to think we’ll be in the mix but I’m not going to get ahead of myself, it’s a really competitive championship with some great drivers in it. But why wouldn’t we want to be aiming to be in the mix?
“GT racing is, or can be, a lottery in terms of luck and it’s not something necessarily that I can change, that luck. If lady luck is on our side and we’re having a good time, the chances are that means we’ll be competitive and we’ll be in the mix for some great results and I’m sure some great weekends as well.”
A rule change for 2021 sees Silver-Silver driver pairings outlawed which will also go some way to increasing the chances of the Am drivers.
“I think that’s a great benefit for Ams, from my side anyway certainly coming into it. Having raced against the Silver-Silvers in GT4 obviously, the way in which pitstops were done it always meant that the Am, or the Pro-Am pairings, were always generally in the mix throughout the race which meant it was interesting all the way through no matter what part of the race you were actually involved in, you were always in it until the chequered flag.
“However, the Silver pairings did make quite a big difference in GT3, so I think it’s going to be interesting maybe the size of the grid but I don’t think it is going to be any less competitive between like-minded individuals as a Pro-Am pairing so I guess we’re all going to be going hammer and tongs at it.
“I don’t really mind who’s on the grid to be fair. It’s obviously nicer to put all that effort in and not be in a position where you’re 30-40 seconds down on the lap after 45 minutes, that is a bit soul destroying to be honest, but that’s how it is, you pay your money you take your choice. I’m looking forward to maybe not having that this year, we’ll see what happens in the end.”
Nick Jones was interviewed by Joe Hudson.
Top image courtesy of Michael Hall Photography.
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