Barker Bags Points At Croft
DATE ADDED: Tuesday 26 June 2012
Ben Barker continued to bolster his Porsche Carrera Cup GB points tally by claiming a brace of top seven finishes in his Parr Motorsport entry on a difficult weekend in North Yorkshire.
As had been the case at Oulton Park two weeks ago, the 20-year old headed to Croft without any prior experience of the circuit, and hoping that the British summer would be kind to him as he attempted to both learn the layout and find the best set-up for his CARS-backed machine. Sadly, again repeating his Oulton Park fortunes, Barker was greeted by decidedly autumnal conditions for the pre-event test, with strong winds and heavy rain making the learning curve a steep one.
Despite that, the Parr team ended the day in positive mood, with Barker having posted the second and fourth fastest times respectively in the series' two sessions on track. Sadly, that optimism was dented when Saturday dawned dry, meaning that team and driver would have to begin again in terms of finding the right set-up in order to compete with rivals who had benefited from a pre-season test at the airfield venue.
"Ironically, it was a case of 'in at the deep end' when we found that the weekend might be dry," Barker sighed, having posted the seventh best time in the PCCGB's sole qualifying session, "Although I had a better idea of where the circuit went, we had to start from scratch on the set-up, and with less time to perfect it than we had on the test day. Having said that, I could probably have qualified in the top two or three spots had I not put two wheels on the grass on my best lap! That small mistake cost me around four-tenths and with such a short window to get the best out of the tyres, I couldn't improve afterwards."
A good start to race one later in the day saw the #20 car latch onto the leading group, and Barker had already gained a position by the end of lap two, moving up to sixth at the expense of championship rival Daniel Lloyd. However, the car's nagging tendency to understeer meant that further progress was hard to make and he continued to circulate in sixth, a couple of seconds off the top five, until two laps from home, when points leader Michael Meadows was forced to retire, allowing Barker to claim fifth place.
Race two on Sunday afternoon proved to be a processional affair at the front of the field, with the top seven holding their grid positions throughout the 15 laps. With his second-best qualifying lap leaving him on the inside of row four, Barker circulated at the tail of the group, unable to get close enough to the car in front to make a pass, despite closing in over the final few laps.
"We just couldn't extract any more pace from the car," the former single-seater champion admitted, "The team worked so hard to give me a good set-up, but it still felt soft, and that meant that we struggled to move up in race two. The changeable weather throughout the weekend didn't help, with temperatures going up and down and never remaining constant, but we were always up against it as I had never been to Croft before and the team hadn't been here for a couple of years, and not with the current car."
"Their efforts can't be faulted, however, and hopefully, now that we're heading for circuits that we know, we can get ourselves back amongst the podium places. The points battle is still close and we've only just reached the halfway point of the season, so there is still a lot to play for."
With the British Grand Prix and its supporting Porsche Supercup rounds taking precedence in July, the Carrera Cup GB schedule faces another lengthy break before action resumes at Barker's 'home' circuit of Snetterton on the weekend of 11-12 August.