No home sweet home for Barker at Silverstone
DATE ADDED: Monday 7th July 2014
Ben Barker endured a frustrating return to home soil as he was forced to settle for a top ten result in the Silverstone round of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup.
The 23-year old arrived back in Britain sitting in a share of third place in the overall standings, and with the Verva Lechner Racing in good form over the opening three rounds of the season, but initially found himself off the pace in practice as the white-and-red #15 machine struggled on old tyres.
Confident that his performance would improve with a change of set-up ahead of qualifying, Barker was looking for another leading grid position, but hadn’t bargained on the fluctuating British weather, which alternated between wet and dry throughout the day. Although the Silverstone surface was damp for the start of the Porsche session, the conditions suggested that it would improve through the ensuing 30 minutes.
“I knew it wouldn’t rain for the rest of the session, and the track was quickly drying, so, with ten minutes to go, we put slicks on the car as others had made the change earlier and were getting closer to the best wet times,” Barker explained, “We knew it would only get quicker on that tyre at the end of the session, but I think I made the call a little too late. I should have put the slicks on earlier, so I only had three laps and really had to push as hard as I could to gain pressure in the tyre for it to work over the damp sections of the track. Unfortunately, I could only manage a time that was good enough for P10, which was particularly frustrating as my first and last sectors were good, but a small mistake in the middle cost me a potential top three position.”
Starting the race from the middle of the grid left Barker with the dilemma of needing to make up ground early on, but having to keep an eye on the action around him in order to avoid being caught up in a melee through the opening turns of the Silverstone circuit. Having made a decent getaway, he fought his way around the outside into the first hairpin, gaining a few positions in the process. However, as the drivers ahead of him jousted for position, the Briton was then forced into evading action.
“Just as I thought I’d made up a few places, I got a face full of [Kevin] Estre’s car, and dived left to avoid a collision,” he recounted, “That cost me three positions, which was particularly frustrating as, if I had had the time to go to the right, I would have gained an additional two!! Another case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time…”
Despite the #15 struggling for mid-corner speed, in turn affecting race pace, Barker still managed to claim back a couple of positions, eventually returning to ninth position. It may not have been the result he had been hoping for from his home race, but still added another seven points to his season’s tally.
“It just wasn’t my weekend, and I’m disappointed not to have been able to show my true ability in front of my home crowd and supporters,” the Cambridge native said, “I’m still third in the championship and we’re leading the teams’ standings after another strong result for my team-mate, and I already have some strong ideas and ambitions on car set-up and performance going into Hockenheim in two weeks’ time.”
Round five of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup takes place at Hockenheim in Germany over the weekend of 18-20 July.