Ben Barker wants to be a V8 Supercar driver – so the chance to race against some of the heroes of Australian Touring Car racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup at the 2011 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix is one he wants to grab with both hands.
In today’s second Carrera Cup race the 20-year-old Brit did exactly that, passing both Mark Skaife and Steven Richards in genuine, wheel-to-wheel combat.
Making Barker’s feats even more impressive is that this is his first race meeting in an enclosed car, his background being in open-wheeler racing.
He is the reigning Australian Formula 3 Drivers’ Champion, and before getting to Albert Park on Thursday, he’d never raced a car with a roof.
“It feels surreal,” he said.
“I knew who [Skaife and Richards] were, but when you catch them on the track in a racing scenario, they are just another car.”
Barker was on-track to finish second in today’s race, but ran wide at the second last corner on the final lap, dropping him to fourth.
“We had great pace,” he added.
“I managed to get through [Richards and Daniel Gaunt], but at the end I ran wide and gave two spots away. I’m happy and disappointed!”
The third and final Carrera Cup race will be tomorrow at 12:35pm.