Barker will get two shots at Le Mans 24

TRACKSIDE: Ben Barker is returning for a third season at the wheel for Porsche's Gulf Racing team  Picture: Porsche Media
TRACKSIDE: Ben Barker is returning for a third season at the wheel for Porsche's Gulf Racing team Picture: Porsche Media

Ben Barker will return to the FIA World Endurance Championship for a third straight season, having again been confirmed as the lead driver for Gulf Racing’s 2018 GTE-Am entry.

The Clare-raised driver, who took victory in the Bathurst 12 Hours last month, guided his number 86 Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR to two podium finishes in 2017.

He returns to the fold as the team’s Pro Gold driver alongside owner Mike Wainwright and an, as yet, unnamed third driver.

The trio can expect to face their most competitive campaign to date, with as many as nine cars contesting the closely-fought GTE-Am class. But Barker is excited to be getting his hands on the latest version of the 911 RSR, which debuted in the GTE-Pro category in 2017.

“It’s great to be back in the familiar surroundings of Gulf Racing as the team embarks on its most intriguing season yet,” he said.

“I’m really excited to be leading the team again and hope that I can help to put the number 86 car back on the podium — and, hopefully, the top step this time.

“It is exciting that Gulf Racing will be getting its hands on the latest 911 RSR, which will hopefully make us an even more competitive prospect against the likes of Aston Martin and Ferrari at every circuit.

“The new car proved its potential in the Pro class last season, and I can’t wait to see what it can do when we finally get it out on track soon.”

Barker is optimistic the car will be a contender as the FIA WEC embarks on a unique ‘super season’, running over 14 months and eight rounds, book-ended by two visits to the famed Le Mans 24 Hours.

“The championship is undergoing a radical change to put more emphasis on Le Mans, and that has needed a little creative thinking –­ but who’s going to complain about a season that has two Le Mans 24 Hours?” Barker added.

The opening round takes place at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 4-5.