DATE ADDED: Monday 3rd August 2015
Ben Barker came within a couple of laps of returning to the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany podium after a determined charge from the middle of the pack at the Red Bull Ring.
The Briton was looking to return to the top three after a couple of frustrating rounds in the German national series, and some slick pit work from the Land Motorsport team during a wet race at the Austrian Grand Prix venue looked set to propel the 24-year old back amongst the silverware. However, when his move for third place was met with excessive resistance, Barker’s day ended with an untimely trip across the gravel, leaving him back in an unrepresentative eighth place with no time to mount another recovery drive.
“It was a dramatic race right from the start,” the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup regular admitted, “Thinking that the track was going to dry out, most of the field started on slicks, but it quickly became apparent that the conditions weren’t going to change. On the last lap of the second safety car period, I took the decision to pit for wets and my race was transformed. I wasn’t the only one making the call on tyres, so it wasn’t easy, but I quickly found myself in the hunt for a podium.
“Unfortunately, as I was lining up my move for third place, the car I was overtaking started moving across, pushing me onto the slippery side of the track. A small lock-up caused me to clip the white line and that sent me through the gravel trap. Fortunately, there wasn’t any damage and I was able to resume, but eighth place was scant reward for the fantastic efforts of the team in getting me turned around at the pit-stop.”
Barker’s charge was reminiscent of his previous visit to Styria, where June’s Supercup race also ended with unavoidable contact when the podium beckoned. Both races required the Briton to come from a mid-grid position, and Barker admitted that his recent qualifying woes had still not been entirely solved at the Red Bull Ring, leaving him to start 13th for both the weekend’s races.
“I felt that I was turning in good clean laps, but the stopwatch was saying otherwise,” a frustrated Barker revealed, “It seems that I am not getting the peak of the tyres to work effectively and we need to get to the bottom of that.”
Saturday’s first race had confirmed Barker’s ability to overcome a lowly grid position once racing began, as he again charged through the field to claim a welcome sixth place in the weekend’s opening round. The distinctively-liveried #89 Porsche was quick off the line, allowing Barker to make early progress into the top ten. With another couple of drivers removing themselves from the competition, the Briton continued to move up the order, showing good race pace in dry conditions.
“I enjoyed a great battle with former Supercup champion Nicki Thiim and the car was running well,” Barker reported, “The result gave us confidence for race two and that looked to be going even better before I found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m sure that I could have got the cutback before I was pushed wide and, as I had the second fastest lap of the race and was consistently amongst the quickest cars out there, I think I could have made a push for second as the car was great in the wet conditions.
“All in all, it was good to get some decent points from a poor qualifying position, but I really want to be back on the podium…”
After a short summer break, Barker will return to Porsche Mobil1 Supercup action at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium over the weekend of 21-23 August.