Barker off the grid with perfect start to season
Ben Barker got his 2018 season off to the perfect start by helping the Grove Racing team to victory in the Bathurst 12 Hours in Australia.
The Clare-raised Briton is no stranger to the event, and was making his fourth appearance at Mount Panorama for Grove, but underlined his affinity for both the circuit and the #4 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car by claiming another pole position to guide the team to its second win in four years.
The early practice sessions provided a good foundation for the race, with Barker completing his usual limited number of laps in order to let team-mates Stephen and Brenton Grove get valuable track time under their belts.
The World Endurance Championship regular qualified with a scintillating lap to claim pole position well ahead of his nearest rival in the 50-car field.
Barker said: “The car felt balanced as we headed into qualifying, which was the main thing I wanted. It was a nice run.
“This is probably the most dangerous race I do in my season, but Bathurst is also the most enjoyable track to drive.
“Starting the race in the dark is beyond mental and certainly wakes you up at the silly hour of 5.45am.
“Despite that, we all had some great stints, setting a good consistent pace and keeping out of any mischief.”
Grove, however, became unwell during one of his driving stints to cause a minor crisis, although they were able to turn to experienced Porsche driver Dan Gaunt as an able substitute.
Barker added: “Dan produced two useful runs that allowed us to retake the lead and pull away for the victory.
“It’s become one of the ‘can’t miss’ events and the perfect warm-up to the rest of the season, so it’s always a great pleasure to be invited to drive with the Grove family and their team.”
Barker has yet to confirm his racing plans for the rest of 2018, but hopes to be able to make an announcement in the coming weeks.