Barker denied podium after impressing in Austin
DATE ADDED: Monday 22th September 2014
Ben Barker came closer than ever to a maiden podium in the Tudor United Sportscar Championship as the GB Autosport team produced its best showing of the season in the Lone Star Le Mans event at the Circuit of the Americas.
In the heart of cowboy country, the British Porsche ace again proved that he is a match for anyone in the GTD category by riding the Tully’s Coffee-sponsored entry through an hour-long battle for the class lead before handing over to team-mate Damien Faulkner.
As with each of his previous forays into the IMSA-sanctioned series this season, Barker had to learn another new circuit but, with the team having worked to wrangle some additional pace out of the #81 car, also had to cede seat time to regular pilot Faulkner, hastening his need to adapt to the complex COTA layout.
“Damien was to have most of the test time as he would be the qualifier, and I sacrificed the last session for him and the team to confirm set-up - which turned out to be a good move,” Barker explained, “Damien qualified P6 and only four-tenths away from the class pole, which was the closest we’ve been and especially promising over the course of a 2min 09secs lap.”
Once again entrusted with the first stint in the race, Barker revelled in having fewer cars ahead of him as the race went ‘green’, replicating his recent US form by picking off those ahead of to quickly find himself in a battle for the GTD lead. Able to run with the sole car that remained ahead of him, the 23-year old pulled a gap on the chasing pack as he made the most of the revised set-up on the Tully’s Porsche.
“I had slightly less of a mission ahead of me compared to previous starting positions in the US, and managed to make my way into second place after only a few laps,” Barker recalled, “Once there, I stuck with the leaders for the entire stint. They had the superior aerodynamics whilst we had the straight line speed, but we both pulled away from the group by around ten seconds.”
Barker continued to battle for the lead throughout his scheduled stint, before handing over to Faulkner with the #81 still second in class. The Irishman picked up where his team-mate left off, continuing to harry the leading BMW from the restart, even seizing the opportunity to move into the lead, albeit briefly.
"My hour-long stint ended under a yellow so, although I was still in P2 when I pitted, the gap was lost to those behind,” Barker continued, “However, Damien was again fighting for the lead and even managed to get past, until a hit from the BMW spun him around at turn eleven and dropped the Tully’s car to fourth.”
If that incident appeared to put a podium beyond the reach of the GB Autosport duo, the race ended with an even crueller twist as damage sustained in the incident caused a puncture with four minutes to go, dropping the #81 to ninth in class at the chequered flag.
“The result is in no way representative of the strides the team has made and the performance we put in in the race,” Barker insisted, “I was really happy with my stint, fighting for the lead up until the driver change and, after a similar front-running drive in the ELMS race last week, it’s great to see that I can carry my form from series to series.
“The Circuit of the Americas is an awesome facility, and I can’t wait to get back here for the final rounds of the Porsche Supercup at the start of November. Hopefully, I can reproduce this sort of race…. without the bad luck at the end!”
With the Supercup on hiatus until its double-header in Texas, Barker will next be in action at the ten-hour Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta over the weekend of 2-4 October.