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Barker claims podium on Carrera Cup Asia debut

DATE ADDED: Tuesday 29th October 2013

 

Ben Barker made the most of a late call up to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia series by fighting his way on to the podium in race two of his debut at the Shanghai International Circuit.

 

The Briton was not expecting to be back in the cockpit until the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup finale in Abu Dhabi this coming weekend, and the summons to China came in sad circumstances as was asked to stand in for the late Sean Edwards, the current Supercup points leader who tragically lost his life while instructing in Australia between races. With Edwards’ sponsor looking for a quick and available replacement, Barker’s name was put forward, although the 21-year old faced his first race before even leaving for the Far East.

 

The chance to race in China came in unfortunate circumstances, as the team and sponsor was looking for someone to drive Sean’s car,” Barker confirmed, “Everything was very last minute, but I needed time to think about the situation, as it was a little weird to be going out there to replace someone I have come to know well over the last season. In the end, I decided that it was the right thing to do, but I only got my visa at 4pm… and was due to fly at 6!”

 

Not knowing what to expect from a series that, being regional, would not be as strong as the Supercup, but still featured a number of established Porsche drivers thanks to its insistence on cars being backed by local marque dealerships, Barker was pleased to see his name towards the top of the timesheets right from opening practice. Running the Team Betterlife entry fielded by the Asia Racing Team, the Briton overcame a handful of niggling technical problems and the fact that he had never been to the SIC before to post the third best time in free practice.

 

“The car had had a big crash mid-season and, although a lot of the parts had been replaced, there were still issues with the upright and gear linkage,” Barker confirmed, “Despite losing time with that, and the fact I was having to use practice to learn the layout, I was pleased with the performance. I got four late laps to post my time in the second 30-minute session, but knew that there was more to come from both myself and the car once we fitted new tyres.”

 

Qualifying promised even more, as the Team Bleekemolen regular posted the second fastest time early on, only to find that he was running low on fuel as he looked to go quicker later in the session. With a minimum of four laps needed to get the best out of the tyres, Barker came up one short, slipping back to fourth on the grid as a result.

 

Race one began with Team Betterlife still chasing an imbalance on the #9 machine, but Barker quickly found a way past Supercup rival Martin Ragginger and defied the effects of understeer to keep the Austrian at bay until the final lap, when his worn front tyres hampered his entry onto the long back straight. That gave Ragginger a chance to slip inside and make a pass that secured the final step of the podium, relegating Barker to a frustrated fourth.

 

Race two, however, promised more as, having had to run on old rubber in the first event, the Team Betterlife entry could call on fresh tyres second time around. With the top two from race one – Earl Bamber and Alexandre Imperatori - now on ageing rubber, Barker saw an opportunity to challenge for the victory and, after a good start, was able to account for the Kiwi on lap three before setting off after Imperatori. Despite getting a run on the Swiss driver on the main straight and holding on around the outside of the ensuing right-hander as he gave his rival room, the Briton then found himself on the receiving end, as Imperatori drove into the side of his car and pushed him off the road on the following left-hand turn.

 

The contact left the #9 with damaged tracking and initially hampered Barker’s attempts to chase down the leaders. Despite being repassed by Bamber, he pressed on, making the most of his fresher tyres to exact revenge on Imperatori as, after a six-lap pursuit, he was able to dispense with his assailant and move back into a podium position. Although he then continued to gain on the top two, time proved to be against the Briton, and he had to settle for third at the chequered flag.

“We still had good pace, despite the damage caused by the contact with Imperatori, and the result could have been better still,” Barker claimed, “I was struggling with oversteer from the moment we touched but, once I got used to driving with it, I was able to catch the leaders.

 

Getting a podium is just what the team and sponsor wanted from the weekend, and I know that I did my best in the circumstances, which were unusual from the moment I was asked to drive. I hope that I performed with the sort of respect Sean Edwards deserved…

 

“Overall, it was a good experience and I have to thank Team Betterlife for the chance to race in China for the first time. I was well looked after all weekend and would love the opportunity to go back in future.”

 

Barker’s season will now conclude with the final round of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, as he looks to improve on a share of ninth position in the overall standings over the weekend of 1-3 November.