Barker tames mean streets for top ten in Monaco
DATE ADDED: Sunday 26 May 2013
Ben Barker claimed a second top ten finish in as many Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup outings, improving on his previous best to come home in ninth place in the annual race around the streets of Monaco.
Building on an impressive debut in Barcelona, where he claimed tenth place under persistent pressure from multiple world rally champion Sebastian Loeb, the 21-year old Briton started his Monaco weekend strongly, posting a top five performance in Thursday’s practice session, despite still exploring the limits of both the track and his car.
Despite being familiar with the street circuit following his win at the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique a year ago, tackling it at the wheel of the Supercup machine was a different challenge for Barker, but it was also proving problematic for his rivals, particularly when it came to qualifying early on Friday morning.
“The qualifying session was manic – and very frustrating,” the Team Bleekemolen driver revealed, “There seemed to be yellow flags every other lap, while two red flags made it very difficult to maintain any momentum. I got a couple of clear laps in, but I wasn’t able to maximise the tyres while they were at their peak and, even when I set good sector times through the first part of the lap, an accident in the third brought out more yellow flags and meant that I didn’t improve.”
Barker’s effort proved good enough for eighth on the highly-competitive grid, an improvement of three spots over his Barcelona starting position and once again put him ahead of some more experienced rivals, but the narrow confines at Monaco also meant that he would lining up in the thick of the action heading for Ste Devote on Sunday morning.
Despite having no margin for error, the former Carrera Cup GB runner-up made a good getaway as the lights went out, and almost gained a spot on the short run to turn one. With discretion being the better part of valour, however, Barker held on to his eighth place as the field headed up the hill at Beau Rivage, and would remain there for much of the 16-lap encounter.
Harassing fellow single-seater convert Richie Stanaway for seventh again provided Barker with some good exposure during live coverage of the race on Eurosport, but the Briton was unable to penetrate his Kiwi rival’s resolute defence, as Stanaway made his car as wide as possible in the few overtaking zones.
Unfortunately for Barker, his rival’s obstinacy meant that a train quickly formed in their wake and, with just a handful of laps remaining, Supercup veteran Niki Thiim slid into the side of the #10 machine at the hairpin, forcing it wide and claiming its place in the queue behind Stanaway. With little time to fight back, Barker had to make do with holding on to ninth spot, despite looking for ways to repass his rival, but was pleased to come away with the race’s second fastest lap.
“Ninth place could be made more frustrating by the fact that I set the second best lap time, but I still have to be happy with the result,” the Briton insisted, “There is such a fine line to racing at Monaco, things could have been better but they could also have been a lot worse. It was a bit rough being bundled out of eighth, but I was really happy with the pace we had in the car. I feel that I could have joined the battle for second place had I been able to get by Stanaway early on, but that’s the nature of the beast around here.”
Nevertheless, Barker’s result did move him up two positions in the championship standings, and he will arrive at the next round sitting in eighth place overall.
“Taking two top ten finishes in my first two Supercup races is really encouraging, and I can’t wait to get back out in the car, particularly as the next round is my home race at Silverstone,” he concluded.
The third round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup takes place in support of the British Grand Prix over the weekend of 28-30 June.
Watch the race and view images from the weekend here.