DATE ADDED: Monday 22nd June 2015
Ben Barker was denied potential back-to-back Porsche Mobil1 Supercup podium appearances as a spin halted his charge through the field at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
The Briton arrived in the Styrian hills buoyed by a third place finish in Monaco and, not needing to learn the quick Austrian Grand Prix venue, was able to press on from the moment practice started for round three of the world’s premier Porsche competition.
Although his final position on the timesheets didn’t necessarily represent his pace, Barker was sufficiently optimistic to hope for better in qualifying, but the timed session was turned on its head by the arrival of rain as the cars prepared to venture out. Content with his first run on wet tyres, which left him a competitive fifth overall, the 24-year old then found the handling of his car altered enough by his second set to drop down the order, eventually ending up on the inside of row five.
“I arrived with confidence as I like the track and had some decent speed there last year,” Barker confirmed, “I used testing to explore the limits and to try to understand as much as possible about the car but qualifying was then affected by a last-minute shower, which made the session very wet – and unpredictable.
“I had two sets of new wet tyres available, which was vital for such atrocious conditions, but, having explored for the grippiest lines on the first set, a quick stop near the end to change tyres for remaining five minutes failed to bring any improvement as the pressures were too low on the rears, making for a very oversteery car. Although I was P5 after my first run, with the track getting quicker despite being very wet, I could not improve on my time, eventually ending up P9.”
Despite being frustrated with the result, Barker still believed that there was good pace in the #10 Momo-Megatron machine and was determined to prove as much as soon as the race got underway. A great start and two passing moves on the opening lap saw him move up to P7 and, next time around, he slipped to the inside of Alex Riberas for sixth before lining up Sven Muller as the pair circulated just over a second behind the leaders. Unfortunately, Barker’s progress was abruptly halted as his opponent proved a little more stubborn than those that had fallen before…
“I felt I had the pace to catch the leaders, who were only 1.5secs ahead of us, and was all over the back of Muller going into T1,” the Cambridge native explained, “I committed to making a move, but he braked late and I braked late... I wanted the position and he really didn’t want to give it to me! We were tight to the inside of the apex kerb and, after contact was made, the only likely outcome was a spin that dropped me to the back of the field.
“Although I was able to recover to 19th, it was not the result that I was hoping for. Riberas went on to finish third so I am particularly frustrated by the incident as I clearly had race-winning pace!”
Taking confidence from what was otherwise another strong performance, Barker will head to the fourth Supercup round, on home soil at Silverstone next month, in good heart, warming up with a Porsche Carrera Cup Germany outing on the high-speed Norisring street circuit this coming weekend (26-28 June).