DATE ADDED: Tuesday 2nd June 2015
Ben Barker saw both sides of some hectic Porsche Carrera Cup Germany action during round three of the season at the Lausitzring, eventually coming away with some hard-earned points from the weekend’s second race.
The Briton faced another new challenge as he took on the eastern German circuit for the first time, admitting that the layout – which uses the final corner and main straight of its superspeedway oval in addition to a more traditional road course – was more technical than it first appeared. Once again taking on a field that had raced regularly at Lausitz, Barker used Friday’s practice session to learn the nuances of the circuit, and was content with seventh position on the timesheets, but conceded that his qualifying effort probably needed more track time to be fully competitive.
“The Lausitzring is a deceptive circuit,” the Land Motorsport driver confirmed, “At first glance, it looks relatively straight-forward, but there are some funny lines to take and you have to know how to use the kerbs. As a result, every second you can be on track is valuable and I was still learning when qualifying started.
“I was confident ahead of the session and was happy enough with my best time, which was only four-tenths off pole, but, in hindsight, I was probably still exploring a little too much. I could have used a few more laps to get the most out of the session, and probably should have used all three sets of tyres rather than keeping one back for the races. In the end, it didn’t quite come together.”
With the PCCG employing a qualifying system where a driver’s best time sets his grid position for race two and his second effort does likewise for race one, Barker found himself lining up 14th, on the outside of row seven, for Saturday afternoon’s event, putting himself in the thick of the action from the off.
Despite Lausitz’s reputation for first lap incidents, a good start saw the #89 Porsche make up places immediately, with Barker ending the opening lap in tenth spot and quickly closing in on the group battling over sixth. Sizing up Dan Cammish as his next victim, the Cambridge native made his move on the outside of turn four, only for his rival to get the cutback on exit. As Cammish then attempted to correct a moment of oversteer, however, the two cars made contact, puncturing Barker's left front tyre.
“The puncture was frustrating because the car felt so good,” Barker sighed, “Racing on the same day as a disappointing qualifying session meant that I was more determined than ever, and I got a great start that immediately moved me up a few places. Having latched onto the next group so quickly, I knew that I could have gained at least a couple more places – I was a man on a mission and lapping as fast as the leaders, but I came together with Dan Cammish and came off worst. There was no point bolting on a new tyre for what remained of the race, so that was that….”
If there was any consolation for the Briton, it came from starting further up the grid in Sunday’s race, and another decent getaway again saw him pick up places on each of the first two laps. Putting his head down, Barker quickly caught the group ahead, joining the battle for podium places, but with rivals still close on his heels.
“The car felt good from the start, but the racing was as close as I have experienced of late,” Barker admitted, “Even though I was able to make up places and close the gap to those ahead, I couldn’t shake the cars behind and, in the end, that determined my result. Nicki Thiim was obviously eager to regain the position I took from him on lap two, but out-braked himself into turn one and pushed me off onto the grass, which cost me momentum and allowed the group behind to attack as I attempted to clean my tyres.”
The #89 car lost another couple of places as Barker got back up to speed, but the Porsche Supercup regular still had a move up his sleeve and, as the group caught up to Jaap van Lagen, dived to the inside of both the Dutchman and Christopher Zoechling to claim two places in one corner.
“Zoechling tried a move to the outside of van Lagen at turn one, but they left enough of a gap to the inside that I just had to try,” Barker grinned, “Fortunately it came off and we left each other just enough room…”
The Briton crossed the line in eighth position, just a handful of seconds behind Thiim, and, while disappointed with his return from the weekend, admitted that the racing had been some of the best he had encountered.
“We were bumper-to-bumper or mirror-to-mirror a lot of the time, so it was fantastic racing,” he confirmed, “Of course, I’m pleased to have come out on top of that last battle, and it was a good way to hone my close racing skills, but the results were still a little frustrating as we showed the pace to run at the front. Having tasted Lausitz for the first time, it will definitely be a different story if we return…”
With a rare gap in his busy race itinerary, Barker returns to his driver coaching role this weekend.