Porsche Supercup weekend to forget for battered Barker
DATE ADDED: Monday 21st July 2014
Ben Barker paid the price for an unlucky qualifying performance as contact in the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup pack left him nursing a damaged car to tenth place at Hockenheim.
With no prior experience of the German Grand Prix venue, the Briton used Friday’s practice session to get his bearings, but felt confident that his Verva Team Lechner entry had the pace to be competitive based on the various sector times he was able to put together.
Come qualifying, however, the 23-year old found out just how tricky it can be to put a complete lap together on the relatively short Hockenheim layout, as he repeatedly caught slower traffic and ultimately found himself restricted to a lowly eleventh on the grid.
“Practice was promising as I was able to put in some good sector times, but it was something of a scattered session, so I never got to string sectors together into a complete lap,” Barker reflected, “I knew the car had the pace for a decent grid slot, but qualifying was so frustrating. Traffic cost me some time on my fastest lap, and the tenth I lost while braking for it was the difference between P11 and P3. Another case of what might have been!”
Starting from row six, particularly on a circuit with as many tricky early corners as Hockenheim, could have put Barker in trouble, but the young Briton got a good getaway and was able to pick up three places on the opening lap. He eventually rose as high as seventh, trying to bridge the gap to the group of six breaking away at the front, but, unable to prise consistent pace from the #15 machine, found himself slipping back one position before coming under attack from series veteran Christian Engelhart.
“It was a great start and I was able to pick off some of the cars ahead of me straight away,” Barker commented, “However, I wasn’t quite able to latch on to the group ahead of me and then found myself coming under pressure from behind.”
That pressure ultimately dictated the rest of Barker’s race, as Engelhart was in forceful mood. Having tracked Barker for a couple of laps, the German dived to the inside for a pass, only to make heavy contact with the right-hand side of Barker’s car, damaging its handling and forcing the Briton to play a defensive game for the remaining laps.
“I got hit fairly hard by Engelhart,” Barker confirmed, “The contact had a detrimental effect on the car and prevented me from making any further forward progress. Although I tried to defend, I was something of a sitting duck and eventually dropped back to eleventh place by the chequered flag.”
While he was frustrated to have slipped back to where he had started, one of those drivers taking advantage of Barker’s problems did so under yellow flags covering the recovery of a stranded car. When the necessary penalty was applied, the culprit was relegated behind Barker, promoting the Briton back into the top ten, maintaining his record of such finishes in his second season in the championship.
“To be honest, it’s a weekend that will only stay in my memory for the fact that it was my first race at Hockenheim,” he sighed, “It's always a tough race when you start from P11, and it could have been a whole lot different had I had completed my quick lap. But it is what it is, and I’ll take the lessons I’ve learned this weekend and use them going forward. I’ll work to improve my qualifying performance and with my engineer to make sure I have a better race car for the next round. I’m still P4 in the championship, so all is not lost.”
Round six of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup takes place at the Hungaroring, near to Budapest, this weekend (25-27 July).