Sterling performance for Ben Barker with another top six finish
Ben Barker produced a sterling performance at one of his favourite international circuits as he helped guide Gulf Racing to another top six finish in the ultra-competitive GT category of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas might be a relative newcomer to the global motorsport scene, but has quickly established itself as one of the more challenging venues on the calendar.
But the Hundon driver has already amassed an impressive record at the circuit – both in the WEC and Porsche Supercup – and continued to build on that as the FIA’s premier sportscar series resumed with the six-hour Lone Star Le Mans race.
Despite the event being compressed into just two days, instead of the usual three, Barker and Gulf Racing were quick out of the blocks, posting rapid times throughout practice even though their focus remained on race set-up for a large part of the opening day.
Team owner and driver Mike Wainwright was entrusted with the opening stint on race day and, with a good car underneath him, was able to gain a couple of places.
But, having climbed to ninth in class, he was then faced with bridging a gap to eighth.
Barker, taking over for his fellow countryman, then showed his affinity for the COTA layout, clawing his way up to P3 as clean laps and good strategy saw the 911 RSR pick up places with regularity.
Barker’s second stint proved to be very fast, even though he had to factor in a degree of fuel saving as completing a full hour of racing on a single tank was proving difficult.
The fuel issue caught up with the Gulf team at the end, with third driver Andrew Watson denied a strong fifth position as he had to slow to ensure the #86 machine made it to the chequered flag.
“He was having to lap around a second off his usual time to prevent us having to make a ‘splash-and-dash’ stop at the end,” Barker said. “We still have to resolve some issues in the filling of our fuel tank and that ultimately cost us.
“However, we again showed that we had one of the fastest cars out there, and some of the fastest pit-stops ensured that we could climb all the way into the top five.
“We now move on to Sebring, where we have some unfinished business from last year. After another great race performance, we should have finished P2, so we’re looking forward to putting that right next month.”
The 1000 Miles of Sebring in Florida event will take place between March 18-20.
More by this authorHannah Dolman