Battling Barker goes unrewarded at Road America
DATE ADDED: Monday 11th August 2014
A typically tigerish drive from Ben Barker ultimately went unrewarded in the latest round of the US-based Tudor United Sportscar Championship as the GB Autosport team continued on its learning curve at Road America.
The British IMSA import has already shown his potential the Tully’s Coffee-sponsored entry since being called up to partner Damien Faulkner in the multi-class endurance series, notably in helping to turn 15th on the grid into fourth place last time out at Mosport. However, no repeat was possible this time around despite the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup stand-out showing good form in pre-race practice.
“Road America was another new circuit for me, but I showed strong top five pace in the test session, and the entire team went into qualifying thinking we had a car that was close to where we needed to be,” Barker confirmed, “We only changed a few minor things ready for the qualifying session, but there were other things beyond our control….”
Despite experienced IMSA campaigner Faulkner being entrusted with qualifying, track conditions changed in the midst of the session, and the GB Autosport team found itself going backwards in terms of performance. Once again, the California-based outfit found itself 15th best in the hotly-contested GTD category, with a lot of work to do ahead of the two-hour and 45-minute Continental Tire Road Race Showcase event.
“We were really scratching our heads and could not work out why we were so off the pace,” Barker admitted, “We cannot seem to find a good qualifying set-up that uses the new tyre correctly, and starting P15 for the race meant I had my work cut out.”
Despite being mired in the pack at the start of the race and driving a car that he was not happy with, Barker again showed his ability by making up places and moving through the field, getting as high as seventh in class as he settled in for a longer stint behind the wheel than usual, with the team hoping to gain ground and benefit from any yellow flag periods that occurred.
Unfortunately, whilst in the heat of competition, the 23-year old encountered the sort of problem the blights the smaller capacity runners in endurance racing, as faster cars brought their own battle to bear on the #81 Porsche.
“I got myself into a spot of difficulty whilst being passed by two faster cars into Canada Corner,” Barker explained, “I locked the rear axle slightly and had to use the gravel trap to escape the moment, losing myself a fair amount of time in the process.”
Although the Briton was able to continue after his mishap, Faulkner eventually took over behind the wheel but, ironically for the GB Autosport team, it subsequently found itself being penalised for making two pit-stops under the same yellow flag late in the race, leaving it to finish an unrepresentative twelfth in class. Despite the result, however, Barker insisted that the future looked bright for his US-based team.
"Overall, it was a messy weekend and we are happy to move on,” he confirmed, “However, we have some strong ideas on how to find the pace we need. It's still a very new team and I feel it will click sooner than later.”
Barker will unfortunately not be present to see if improvements come swiftly, missing the next round of the TUSC series to contest round seven of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, over the weekend of 22-24 August.