Red flag rules deny Barker another Monaco podium

MISSED OUT: Ben Barker was denied a podium finish after the race was red-flagged and the order was rolled back
MISSED OUT: Ben Barker was denied a podium finish after the race was red-flagged and the order was rolled back
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Ben Barker overcame tough conditions in Monaco to rack up another fourth place finish in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup on Sunday.

The Clare-raised driver took third place in last year’s Supercup race on the world’s most famous street circuit, but was denied back-to-back Monaco Grand Prix podiums by a red flag just two laps from home.

Barker arrived at the principality of Monaco on the back of a fourth place finish in the opening round in Barcelona, and was confident of landing another top finish for MOMO-Megatron Team Partrax.

Having reacquainted himself with the sinuous Monaco layout in practice on Thursday afternoon, the 25-year-old produced another top four qualifying effort the following morning.

The Porsche specialist’s bid then took a blow, when, having had a day off in the sun on Saturday, he woke to find Monaco shrouded in cloud and under a deluge on Sunday morning.

The Supercup race was the first on track in the build-up to the Formula One Grand Prix and, although the rain eased by the time the drivers took to the grid, the track remained wet enough for the race to begin behind the safety car.

After a controlled pace for the first two laps the field was released, but its single-file nature on the wet surface meant that an immediate challenge for position was impossible.

Undeterred, and gradually gaining in confidence in the tricky conditions, Barker continued to close in and push former Formula One driver Michael Ammermuller.

Barker and Ammermuller continued to run nose-to-tail in the closing stages, when the return of heavy rain proved too much for one of the cars ahead of them, as veteran Klaus Bachler slithered into the wall at Ste Devote.

A promotion to his longed-for podium position for Barker was cut short, with the involvement of other cars in the accident prompting race officials to throw the red flag.

With only a handful of laps remaining to be run, the race was stopped and with a sting in the tail for Barker, as in accordance to the series rules the result was rolled back to the order two laps previously.

“I’ve always thought it a ridiculous rule that you can have an accident and cause the race to be red-flagged, but then retain your position,” Barker sighed.

“With Bachler crashing out, I moved up to third position, but was only there for a minute or so before they decided to abandon the race.

“It’s disappointing not to be on the podium, but another fourth place means a good haul of points, and the car was strong again, on a very different track to Barcelona.”

After two rounds of the Supercup series Barker shares second place in the overall standings, with the next round set to be held at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Austria on July 3.