Porsche points and positions for Barker at Spa
DATE ADDED: Monday 25th August 2014
Ben Barker maintained his push for a prestigious top three championship finish in the Mobil1 Porsche Supercup by registering another points finish with the Verva Lechner Racing team at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Back in Supercup action after nearly a month away competing in other championships during the F1 support series’ summer break, Barker was happy to return to one of the most spectacular venues on the schedule. Set high in the rolling Ardennes, Spa-Francorchamps provides a real test of a driver’s mettle – and great satisfaction when things go well.
Having raced at the circuit last season, the 23-year old was quickly into his rhythm around the 7km layout, but found his practice session interrupted by yellow flags as his rivals were not so fortunate. Unable to set a time more representative than eighth place, he knew that there was more to come from #15 machine as the weekend progressed.
Frustratingly, qualifying proved to be a repeat of practice as, having banked a time good enough for fifth place on the grid, Barker’s attempts to improve were thwarted in the technical middle sector of the lap and, with times so closely-matched in the premier Porsche series, he found himself slipping down the order.
“I knew I had to push for more on the second set of tyres, but they only give me peak performance over one lap, which was my first flyer!” he explained, “A small mistake not only cost me two-tenths in the mid-sector, but that was enough to cost me a possible P2 on the timesheets. With no second chance on that set of rubber, I was suddenly down in tenth and that was that. Supercup is that cut-throat!”
Starting from row five left Barker with a fight on his hands, and an average getaway only made things harder as he slipped back to eleventh into the opening hairpin at La Source. Knowing that he had the pace to catch and pass those immediately ahead of him, however, the Cambridge native put his head down and clawed back the deficit, quickly passing one car to reclaim a place in the top ten.
Aided a by a couple of retirements as he pressured those in front, Barker was able to pick up further positions and, having moved into eighth place, quickly latched onto the queue of cars battling over fourth spot. With his title-chasing team-mate immediately ahead of him, however, the Briton decided to exercise a little discretion before determining that he had the better performance, picking up another position as he attempted to keep tabs on the battle ahead.
“Having got into eighth, I had Kuba [Giermaziak] ahead of me, so I was a little more cautious around him for a few laps,” Barker confirmed, “However, after a while, I knew I needed to make the move to take P7 as the battle for fourth place threatened to get away from me. I was all over the train, but there was some aggressive defending going on that made the overtaking task tricky. Spa isn’t the sort of circuit to reward a rash move and, despite looking for opportunities to pass, I had to settle for P7, pushing P6 over the line!”
Picking up positions enabled Barker to once again collect a healthy haul of points and, with his immediate championship rivals enduring a tough weekend, the Briton was able to move back up in the championship standings, while ensuring that Verva Lechner Racing maintained its hold on P1 in the teams’ table.
“From my qualifying position, it was good to finish in the top eight again, and the points were enough to move me back into a share of third overall in the championship,” he confirmed, “The fight remains close and I’m gunning for the top three! “
Round eight of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup takes place at Monza in Italy over the weekend of 5-7 September.