DATE ADDED: Monday 27th July 2015
The tortuous nature of Budapest’s Hungaroring denied Ben Barker the opportunity to fully exploit the pace of his #10 Momo-Megatron Porsche in the latest round of the F1-supporting Mobil1 Supercup competition.
The Briton arrived in Hungary looking to build on the fourth place finish he had secured in his last Supercup outing, on home soil at Silverstone three weeks previously, and was immediately in the frame after a strong practice performance. However, determined to close the small gap between himself and the top of the timesheets, he found that minor set-up changes made to the striking red-and-black Porsche did not have the desired effect when it came to qualifying, leaving him with a mountain to climb on raceday.
“Having not been to the track for a year, I got straight down to business on old tyres in practice, setting the fastest time four laps in a row when everybody was on similar tyres,” he noted, “The times were good enough to keep me at the top until the very end of the session, when most people then ran new tyres, and I was happy enough to wind up P7 having not run new rubber at all.
“However, making a small change to the car to try and help the balance ahead of qualifying didn’t help me the way I intended, as the track changed with the Pirelli F1 rubber going down. Although the car was not terrible, every little detail of a change could be worth a tenth or two and I ended up a disappointing twelfth. I was only six-tenths from pole - and two-tenths from P3 - but I was highly frustrated as this track is particularly hard to pass at. What made it worse, my lap was fairly clean but I know could have gone a tenth quicker had it not been for a very small mistake.”
Aware that there was pace ready to be unlocked from the #10, Barker went into raceday optimistic that he could still pick up places from the outside of row six, and made an immediate move into eleventh as the pack headed into at turn two. Now on the hunt, he quickly closed on the group battling over seventh position and waited for his moment to pounce.
“I had a good start, initially holding position and then making a move into P11,” Barker confirmed, “My car had great pace and I was on a mission as I caught the group ahead. Looking to pick off places as quickly as possible, I tried to capitalise on a mistake by Christopher Zochling and went up the inside to try and move into the top ten. He wasn’t going to make things easy and I got cut off, resulting in myself losing a position and dropping back down to P12. After that, the nature of the track came to the fore, making it very hard to pass and that’s where I finished. Again, it was very frustrating, moreso to start the race where I did, especially with a fast car on a track that is renowned to be hard to pass at.”
With a four-week summer break before the next Supercup round in Belgium, Barker has vowed to turn his full attention to improving his qualifying performance, and a return to the Red Bull Ring this weekend (1-2 August) provides an early chance to work on his technique as he takes in round six of Porsche Carrera Cup Germany.
“My full concentration will be on improving qualifying,” he confirmed, “I know all the elements will come together sooner than later.”