Late pitstop denies Ben Barker a podium place in FIA World Endurance Championship at Silverstone
Ben Barker was gutted to see Gulf Racing’s podium bid thwarted in the last salvoes of the opening round of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship at Silverstone.
In a competitive GTE-Am class, Barker, owner-driver Mike Wainwright and team newcomer Andrew Watson had second place in their sights with two laps remaining only to have their hopes snatched away.
Cambridge-based Barker was at the wheel for the closing stages and had been managing his fuel load, with reassurances from the pitwall that he had enough to make the chequered flag. However, with two laps remaining, an alarm went off in the cockpit meaning that they had to pit for a top-up. It cost them 30 seconds, which was enough to see the team drop to fourth place.
“This was still a great weekend for the Gulf Racing team, but it would have been amazing to have stood on the podium after all the good work that we put in,” said Barker.
“It’s gutting to see a podium disappear that late in the race, especially in front of our home crowd. We had a similar thing happen at Sebring last season, so it hurts a bit, but there are still a lot of positives we should reflect on.
“Mike and Andrew both turned in quick and consistent runs, and the team made the right call on tyres, which really helped to move us up the order when the rain came.
“We weren’t the fastest out there, especially as the new Aston Martin and evolved Ferrari seem to have gained under the balance of performance, but the Gulf car was as reliable as always and that bodes well for the coming rounds.”
After spending the practice sessions getting a handle on the various tyre compounds, the #86 Porsche 911 RSR, the unsettled car could only qualify in ninth place.
Wainwright had taken the first stint behind the wheel after they qualified ninth and Watson took over on intermediate tyres.
The safety car bunched the field, allowing the Gulf team to get up to third and, after switching to slicks once the rain had passed, Watson handed the car over to Barker in second.
After dropping a place to a Ferrari and then regaining it from a Proton, Barker demonstrated enough pace in the car before the late pitstop hit their hopes of a top-three finish.
The next round of the WEC season is in Japan, at the Fuji circuit, on the weekend of October 6.