DATE ADDED: Monday 13th July 2015
Ben Barker says chasing race wins will be his main focus for the remainder of 2015 after he endured another trying Porsche Carrera Cup Germany weekend at Zandvoort.
After a brace of retirements in the previous round at the Norisring, Barker was hoping to bounce back and reinstate his title challenge in Holland, but battled an errant #89 Land Motorsport car throughout both races at the seaside circuit. Although he initially believed that a mistake on his fastest lap accounted for some of the six-tenths margin between himself and the top of the timesheets in practice, the subsequent qualifying session confirmed that something was amiss with the car, as Barker uncharacteristically ran through three sets of tyres in a bid to improve a dire handling issue.
“Qualifying was very strange,” the Briton admitted, “We thought something was off during practice but the mistake masked just how much slower we were. There was a lot of understeer with the first two sets of tyres that we used in qualifying and, even when we altered the set-up for the third set, things didn’t change that much, and we were still over a second off the pace.”
With the PCCG employing a qualifying system where a driver’s best time sets his grid position for race two and takes his second fastest lap for race one, Barker found himself lining up 11th for Saturday’s event, but things quickly got worse for the 24-year old as the #89 had no pace and got gradually worse throughout the 14-lap event, resulting in an unfamiliar position in the lower reaches of the result sheet.
“I was battling the Class B cars – and losing!” an incredulous Barker sighed, “It was a real effort just to get the car to the end of the race, as the handling didn’t respond to anything we tried. My fastest lap was 1.4secs off that of the race winner, so things clearly weren’t getting any better, and my team-mate was doing alright using exactly the same basic set-up, so we were a little lost as to the exact cause of the problem.”
The Land Motorsport crew attacked the #89 between races, changing the dampers and steering amongst other things, but was unable to pin-point any likely cause for Barker’s handling woes as he prepared for a fifth row start in Sunday’s programme-opener. As expected, things improved little for the Briton who, despite not finding himself amongst the second class, again struggled to hold onto his top ten spot.
“Everyone seemed to suffer understeer to some extent, but nobody seemed to be as bad as us,” the Porsche Supercup regular noted, “We went back to the third set of tyres that we used in qualifying and, for the first five laps, things seemed better, but then handling went off a cliff, resulting in chronic understeer for the rest of race. With all the changes we made, it definitely wasn’t an engineering miscalculation, and might be the result of the incidents at the Norisring, but we need to get on top of it.”
Limping home in an unrepresentative twelfth – just one place better than he had managed in race one - Barker admitted that his goals for the rest of the PCCG season had now changed.
“After a solid start to the year, I have to face the fact that my championship challenge has taken a big hit in the past two rounds,” he confirmed, “Now we’ve just got to focus on getting the car right and going out there to prove a point by winning races. Fortunately I still have my Supercup campaign to look forward too, but I need to give the Land team something to celebrate. The team will strip the car down once it gets back to the workshop and, particularly if we can test before the next round, I am sure we’ll be back with a bang.”
Barker now has a weekend off to reflect on the differing fortunes of his two championship bids, before returning to action in the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup at the Hungaroring determined to build on the fourth place he took last time out at the British Grand Prix.