DATE ADDED: Monday 14th September 2015
Ben Barker maximised his Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland points haul at Oschersleben, cannily gaining positions in tricky conditions in the round seven double-header.
Looking to bounce back from his enforced early exit from the recent Porsche Mobil1 Supercup event at Monza, Barker used Friday’s practice to get better acquainted with a circuit he had only previously experienced in testing but, having posted the third-best time of the session, continued to be frustrated in qualifying as he found himself in 13th spot.
“I had no new tyre ‘bite’ when it counted and that hurt us in terms of grid position,” Barker admitted, “Without front end grip, you are nowhere in these cars, and that was out problem in qualifying. After Monza, where things were looking up, this is a disappointment, but we think we know where we can make changes going forward.”
With the PCCD using a system where a driver’s second-fastest lap determines his grid position for race one, Barker actually found himself on the outside of row six on Saturday afternoon, and he quickly improved on that with some instinctive awareness heading into turn one. With the pack converging into the corner, the 24-year correctly anticipated an accident occurring and, having briefly held back, chanced that the carnage would head towards the outside of the corner. With the driver immediately ahead of him braking to avoid joining the incident, Barker rolled his Land Motorsport entry to the inside and, holding a tight line, was able to emerge in fourth place.
“I could see the accident unfolding before me, so I took the gamble that it would leave the inside of the corner clear,” the Cambridge native explained, “I was fortunate, but read the situation pretty well and came away with a good result. The race set-up on the #89 Porsche wasn’t too bad, and even though the accident created a big gap between first and fourth, I was able to hold position quite comfortably. Of course, it would have been nice to have been back on the podium but, given that we weren’t even expecting to be in the top six, I’m happy with fourth, especially as I was able to control the gap to those behind.”
Barker’s true qualifying position set his start for race two on Sunday morning and, after overnight rain, meant that he was on the wetter side of the grid. Despite that, he quickly regained ground lost as the lights went out and latched onto the group battling over ninth position.
Although confident with his car in the unpredictable conditions, the damp track off the racing line made overtaking difficult, but Barker nevertheless picked up places as he used his head where others were losing theirs. With the car at the front of the group clearly holding the rest up, impatience took over as no fewer than three of the Briton’s rivals made the same turn one move – only to run wide as they scrabbled for grip. With each repeated error, Barker picked up a place, and then, when his turn came, he showed that he had learned from what he had seen by picking an unconventional move at turn two to claim ninth spot for himself.
“The even-numbered grid positions had a drier surface to start on, as that was the racing line for earlier races, so I didn’t have the chance to make the sort of getaway I enjoyed in race one,” Barker acknowledged, “Once I was in the battle for ninth, however, it was all about planning the right move at the right time.
“Three drivers, including my team-mate, all tried the same pass into turn one, but the track wasn’t giving up enough grip for them to make it stick, so I thought I’d try somewhere else. Turn two is a long corner, and not a normal overtaking spot, but I was able to cut back and accelerate at a point mid-corner, get the traction down and pull away. From there, I inched towards the next group, which was battling over sixth, but there wasn’t enough time left to bridge it completely.”
With a long break until the next round of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, Barker will return to the German domestic series at the Nurburgring in two weeks’ time (25-27 September), optimistic that he will be able to build on his Oschersleben performance.
“We maximised our results and points this weekend, but where we finished isn’t where we belong,” he maintained, “However, with this weekend under our belts, we’ll head to the Nurburgring with fresh heads and new ideas. I’m enjoying working with the Land Motorsport team and am glad to have provided a fillip for them after a tough middle of the season, but now it’s time to reward that camaraderie with a return to the podium…”