Ben Barker‘s endurance racing career kicked off in style as he secured victory at the Bathrust 12 Hours in his first attempt.
The Briton shared the Grove Group Porsche 997 GT3 alongside Earl Bamber and car owner Stephen Grove, with the trio running near the front for much of the race before coming to the flag to take eighth overall and first in class.
Starting from fourth in class, the Grove Group trio suffered a tough start, with two blowouts costing the Porsche vital time working its way back to the pits. However, strong driving from Bamber’s double stint managed to pull back a large portion of the loss.
After almost four hours of racing, Barker took the car into the class lead when the leader suffered mechanical problems. Barker and Grove then began to alternate 70 minute stints, before Bamber took over for the final two hours, brining the car home two laps ahead of the second placed car in class.
“I handed the car over to Earl with us sitting first in class and our nearest rivals a full minute behind,” said the former Australian F3 champion Barker.“They still had to do a driver change at that point, and this gave us a little more time to play with. It was all about judging when to pit under the safety car, but making sure all three drivers did not go over or under the maximum/ minimum time allowed behind the wheel. From handing over to Earl, it was an awesome run to the end, eventually winning by two laps.”
“Returning to Bathurst is always a pleasure, and Mount Panorama remains one the biggest challenges for a race driver anywhere in the world. Thanks to Stephen Grove for putting his trust in me and I’m glad we were able to do the job. It feels great to start my endurance racing career with a win – and I’m already hoping I get the chance to do it again!”
While nothing has yet been announced, Barker is hoping for to continue competing in the Porsche Supercup for 2014.