Pit-stop woes hinder Ben Barker and Gulf Racing's podium hopes in FIA World Endurance Championship Six Hours of Fuji
Two unscheduled pit-stops meant that Ben Barker and his Gulf Racing team-mates were denied a place on the podium for the second FIA World Endurance Championship round running.
The team headed for Japan for the Six Hours of Fuji in confident mood having produced a strong performance on home soil in the opening stage of the championship.
The circuit had proved favourable for Gulf’s #86 Porsche 911 RSR in recent years, and they started in good spirits as Cambridge-based Barker won a kicking competition to mark the Rugby World Cup which is currently taking place in Japan.
In qualifying, Barker lapped fourth fastest among the pro category drivers and was the second fastest Porsche, and with team owner Mike Wainwright lapping quickly, they slotted into eighth place in the LM GTE Am class.
“I felt really confident going into qualifying and was pleased to be within four-tenths of the arguably faster Ferraris and Aston Martins,” said Barker.
“Mike also did a great job on my used tyres to put up an aggregate time good enough for P8, giving us a good platform to build on in the race.”
A tactical battle lay ahead in the race with rain in the air. Wainwright kept them in eighth through the first stint and when Barker took over, they started to move, getting up to second.
Wainwright was back behind the wheel when the Gulf team’s fortunes turned as they first suffered a puncture forcing them into the pits. And then, when the light rain arrived, they were caught on the wrong tyres for the changing track conditions.
“I had fun passing seven cars to take us to P2 but, ultimately, doing two additional stops cost us a potential top-five spot,” said Barker.
“Our pace was very good, and it was encouraging to again be one of the fastest Porsche drivers, but it was another case of what might have been.
“It’s tough on the team, especially as they were lightning fast on the pit-stops again, but we’ll just move on to China and hope for better fortunes.”
The next WEC round is at the Shanghai International Circuit in China from November 8 to 10.