Porsche Supercup graduate Ben Barker is determined to make an impression on the German manufacturer after signing for Gulf Racing in the World Endurance Championship.
Despite driving for a different team in each of his three seasons in the championship, the 24-year-old never finished outside the top ten, adding two podiums in the equally competitive German Carrera Cup last season, but now aims to impress the factory on his return to Gulf, which ran him in the European Le Mans Series in 2014.
“I’d like to think that I’ve got myself another opportunity with Porsche – I know the car, I know the team, so hopefully I can impress and make a name for myself,” Barker told Racing.GT. “The format of Supercup events is very different to the WEC. I’ve always thought of myself as being more suited to endurance racing because I’m quite a consistent driver and don’t make too many mistakes. I’ve just got to try and do the best job that I can and then we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Silver-rated Barker will share the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with owner Michael Wainwright and former A1 GP champion Adam Carroll in the GTE-Am class. Having lapped at a similar pace to the Northern Irishman in 2014, Barker is hoping that the two will push each other on to further success in 2016.
“Adam is obviously an exceptional driver and a great benchmark for me,” Barker said. “In 2014 we were fairly comparable, I did two hours of the race and he was doing one, but it was really handy to have him pushing the car as much as possible and bouncing ideas off each other. Quite often we would be feeling the same things and giving very constructive feedback to the team, so from my point of view we were quite similar.
“Adam can also prove a lot to the Porsche factory and if we can do it together and come out on top at the end of the season, it would be testament to how good Gulf Racing is and our driver line-up as well.”
Contesting the full WEC season will also afford Barker a first opportunity to enter the Le Mans 24 Hours, although it won’t be the first time he has raced there. Back in 2014, the French Carrera Cup and Carrera Cup GB series came together for a 45-minute invitational on the morning of the 24 hours, which Barker won after Kevin Estre suffered a puncture on the final lap.
“It was amazing, all the Le Mans teams were building up and getting ready for the start of their race so I’m not sure they were paying too much attention, but generally from a media perspective it got some attention,” Barker recalls. “It was quite a patriotic weekend with the Carrera Cup France versus Carrera Cup GB and all the fans who were there for the big race had their flags out. We got a great response from the crowd, so that was very cool and it enthused me even more to take part in the 24 hours itself.
“In the end I was slightly fortunate in that Kevin got a blowout, but that was all part of the game in saving tyres with all the kerbs you take. It’s a circuit that always makes for great racing because of the straights and with the tow, we were reaching higher speeds in the Cup car than you do in a GTE car! I’m really looking forward to doing it in something with a bit more aero for the commitment corners and of course it’s nice to go to a track where you’ve won before.”