28 August 2012
Opportunity knocks as Barker dominates in Scotland
Parr Motorsport's Ben Barker secured a breakthrough Porsche Carrera Cup GB victory at Knockhill - and promptly followed it up with a second...
There's definitely something about Ben Barker and Knockhill as the rising sportscar star added two victories in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB to the similar success he enjoyed at the Scottish circuit in Formula Ford.
Having finished on the podium last time out at Snetterton, Barker arrived at the Dunfermline circuit in confident mood, buoyed by the fact that he had raced there – and taken home some silverware - in last year's PCCGB. Having been denied pole position on that occasion, despite holding provisional top spot before an untimely red flag, the 20-year old was again immediately on the pace in 2012, moving to the head of the timesheets early in the half-hour qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.
This time around, the arrival of mid-session rain – a not uncommon occurrence at Knockhill – confirmed Barker's position and, despite his rivals getting a shot at denying him the pole, his second fastest lap also proved better than those of the rest of the field, giving the Parr Motorsport team reason for a double celebration after reading the weather correctly.
“Everything finally came together,” a delighted Barker – whose best lap was the fastest ever by a Porsche at Knockhill - exclaimed, “The team called the conditions just right, the car was great to drive and I managed to put in a couple of decent laps…. We've known that we were capable of being at the front of the field for much of the year, but things have conspired against us until now. This time, with the rain arriving when it did, maybe the luck was on our side.”
If anyone considered Barker fortunate to have earned pole by just 0.036secs over championship leader Michael Meadows, the BRDC Superstar set them straight come raceday, streaking away from pole position on Sunday morning to establish an immediate advantage as Meadows and title challenger Sam Tordoff battled over second spot. Half a second up at the end of the opening lap, the former Australian F3 champion maintained the gap for the first two-thirds of the race, before gradually pushing it up over a second from lap 20.
At the same time, however, the safety car appeared, negating any opportunity for Barker to pull further away, and threatening to allow his pursuers to close in. The Parr driver remained focused however and, when the restart came, was able to vault away from Meadows to re-establish his advantage. Despite that, his run to the flag was still to be cut short, as a four-car incident in his wake brought out the red flag next time around, handing Barker his first PCCGB victory, complete with a new lap record after he posted the race's fastest lap during his early escape.
Race two looked to be even more comfortable for the Suffolk native as he again got the jump on Meadows and left the pack to squabble amongst themselves. This time, second and third collided, dropping Meadows to the tail of the field and sidelining Tordoff, while handing the CARS-backed Parr machine a substantial four-second lead by the end of the opening lap.
The advantage grew further as Barker pressed on, but was again wiped out by the safety car as marshals struggled to remove cars stranded by a separate incident. Despite now having Knockhill expert Rory Butcher behind him at the restart, the leader responded with another clean getaway, and quickly re-established his cushion over the pack. More than two seconds clear by lap 20, Barker maintained the margin over the remaining twelve tours to claim back-to-back victories – and another fastest lap bonus – to sweep up a maximum score from the weekend.
“I couldn't ask for any more,” he admitted afterwards, “The team gave me a great car and all I had to do was drive it! The safety car made things interesting in both races, but I always felt that I had the situation under control and I'm delighted to finally get the monkey of not winning off my back.
“With several of the drivers ahead of us failing to score well in race two, it goes some way to making up for the non-score we suffered at Snetterton, and hopefully will be the start of a good run of results that can lift us higher in the standings over the remaining rounds.”
Barker's double win lifted him to fourth in the championship standings with three double-header rounds – starting with Rockingham Motor Speedway on the weekend of 22-23 September – to come.
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