Barker not deflated after battling IMSA return
DATE ADDED: Wednesday 2nd July 2014
Ben Barker continued to add to his international motorsport experience with another eye-catching appearance in IMSA’s Tudor United Sportscar Championship at the famed Watkins Glen International circuit in the USA.
Having impressed on his series debut on the streets of Detroit’s Belle Isle in May, the Briton was invited back to the GB Autosport line-up for the blue riband Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen event, where he once again shared the #81 Tully’s Coffee-backed Porsche 911 GT Cup with Ireland’s Damien Faulkner and team owner Michael Avenatti.
Despite his lack of track knowledge, Barker had only limited time to get acquainted with the former US Grand Prix venue, and the entire GB Autosport squad had work to do after testing as the #81 lacked outright speed. The issue carried over into qualifying, where the vastly-experienced Faulkner was only able to post the 13th-fastest time in the GTD class, leaving the team well down the 53-car grid for Sunday’s race.
“Michael was also new to the circuit and, having missed Detroit, needed time behind the wheel,” Barker commented, “It doesn’t normally take me too long to get up to speed, but there was something lacking in the car that not even Damien’s ability could pull round in qualifying.”
Avenatti took the start of the race but was the victim of an early incident that turned the #81 around at the chicane, and left the GB squad with an uphill battle for the remainder of the race. Nevertheless, the entire line-up knuckled down and Barker, taking over from the American for a lengthy 2hr 40min stint that saw him elevate the silver-and-black Tully’s machine from 19th in class all the way up to seventh.
However, as he looked to make further progress, the 23-year old Porsche Mobil1 Supercup regular suffered a blow-out of the left rear tyre that left him limping back to the pits at the cost of a couple of laps to the class leaders.
“The puncture was such a shame as I was making good progress and really getting into a rhythm,” Barker sighed, “After the early setback, we were making up ground and I was really enjoying myself out there.”
Sadly for the California-based team, Faulkner also suffered a deflation during his stint behind the wheel, losing another lap and leaving the #81 crew down in ninth place at the chequered flag.
"Without the punctures, I reckon we could have been challenging for the GTD class podium,” Barker insisted, “Obviously it is disappointing to have our race determined that way, but I was happy with my performance and extremely grateful to the GB Autosport team for asking me back for a second outing. It was a different kind of race to my first IMSA appearance in Detroit, but it’s all good experience, especially driving such a long stint. On top of that, I’ve discovered another circuit to add to my list of favourites!”
Barker returns to Porsche Mobil1 Supercup action this weekend, lining up with the Verva Lechner Racing team for his ‘home’ event at Silverstone.