Monday 18th April 2016
Ben Barker showed a glimpse of what might have been on his FIA World Endurance Championship debut, despite not getting the chance to make his race debut in the Silverstone 6 Hours.
The Briton, who steps up to the world sportscar stage after impressing during three seasons contesting the global Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, was happy with his pace in practice for his home event, but was denied the chance to compete in front of a strong Silverstone crowd when the Gulf Racing entry he shares with Adam Carroll and Mike Wainwright was caught up in an accident approaching the three-hour mark.
Barker was due to take his first stint in the #86 GTE-AM class Porsche 991 RSR approximately 30 minutes after the incident, and now hopes that the Gulf Racing team can repair its extensively-damaged car in time for round two of the series, at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, on the first weekend of May.
“It’s incredibly frustrating not to get the chance to drive in the race, but it’s more unfortunate for the team, who worked hard to be here and now have a major job on their hands to be ready for round two,” Barker admitted, “The accident was unnecessary, but you can’t rewind time and change things. We just need to knuckle down and fix the car in time for Spa, and show what we can do there.”
The accident, which was caused by race leader Brendon Hartley making an ‘ambitious’ move around the outside of Wainwright at the quick left-handed Farm curve, resulted in the LMP1 racer nearly flipping before both cars made contact with the tyre barriers. Fortunately, neither driver was hurt in the accident, but the Gulf Porsche will need a lot of work before it can return to the track.
Barker, meanwhile, will reflect positively on his contribution earlier in the weekend, where he lapped competitively in mixed conditions and on old tyres in practice, leading to the Gulf Porsche qualifying fourth in class.
“I didn’t get too many laps, but those I did get felt good,” the 24-year old Cambridge native confirmed, “I was running on slicks as the damp track dried on Friday morning, and then put in some good times on old tyres during the afternoon session. I was hoping to get in the car and take advantage of the improving grip and warmer temperatures on race day, but it wasn’t to be. However, there are positives to take away from Silverstone and it’s onward and upward for Spa.”
Barker’s next outing with Gulf Racing will be at round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, over 5-7 May.