BARKER TAKES FOURTH IN A ROW WITH WARWICK WIN IN THE FORM OF HIS CAREER, Briton Ben Barker has won the first race held on the extended Morgan Park raceway layout in Warwick, Queensland, today. The Team BRM driver took advantage of a ...
BARKER TAKES FOURTH IN A ROW WITH WARWICK WIN
IN THE FORM OF HIS CAREER, Briton Ben Barker has won the first race held on the extended Morgan Park raceway layout in Warwick, Queensland, today.
The Team BRM driver took advantage of a black-flag for teammate - and then race leader - Mitch Evans on lap four - for rolling at / prior to the start - to take a lead he would never lose and win his fourth race in succession.
Tom Tweedie finished second after barely missing out on a front-row qualifying position, whilst Chris Gilmour represented well for the Queensland contingent by finishing third.
With Evans recovering to fifth place, the title race is even closer than ever with Tweedie now just five points up on Barker and Evans, who are tied on 132 points each.
Barker received a bonus point for the fastest lap, his new outright track record standing at 1m09.4980s.
"It was unfortunate for Mitch (to receive the black flag), and I know how he feels because it happened to me at Phillip Island," Barker, who started second, said.
"I had a really solid race. The car was fantastic and I have to say a big thanks to the team because the car feels great and running perfectly. They have done a great job.
"In the end it was a fortunate result for me because it would have been hard to pass Mitch, but the focus is now on making a good start tomorrow and getting into turn one first in race two."
Evans was left seething after the black flag, the penalty dropping him five points from the leader; The gap was just two coming into the race after the 16-year old Kiwi took a stunning Meguiar's Pole Position award.
"The car rolled a little bit when I put it into gear, but the red light was on and I gained no advantage. The car was stopped before the light went out," he said.
"It's a hugely disappointing call and it's going to make the championship hard work from here given we have to start from fifth tomorrow, and it's very hard to pass here. It's very frustrating."
Evans' season-long rival Tom Tweedie was more up-beat after extending his series lead with a strong second place.
Tweedie caught and passed Chris Gilmour early in the race and pulled away from the Queenslander before conserving his car to the finish, ready to attack from the front row tomorrow.
"Getting on the front row was absolutely critical for us today after where we qualified," Tweedie said, after starting third.
"We only got the panels on the car two minutes before the start after a clutch issue in qualifying, so it was a good result. We have the pace this weekend to run with the BRM cars so tomorrow will be a very interesting day."
Zhang Shan Qi posted a mature and consistent drive to take his Team PTRS Racing / China-sponsored Dallara to fourth, and moved to that position in the title race as well.
Josh Hunt finished sixth after a slow start in his Rockstar / R-Tek Dallara, whilst locals Roman Krumins (7th) and Jimmy Mann (8th) fought a massive battle all race long, ending side-by-side as they crossed the line.
Ben Gersekowski failed to finish after backing his Dallara into the barriers on the exit of the final chicane just a few laps from home.
The Queensland youngster, in his first national-level race start, had shown impressive pace and had run in the top six prior to his miscue. The car will be repaired for tomorrow's second sprint race.
Earlier in the day, Mitch Evans stole pole position away from his teammate en route to a thrilling Meguiar's Pole Position award - his fourth of the season.
The qualifying king bested his teammate by a scant 0.04s - but even more impressive was the fact that the top three were split by just 0.05s - the closest margin between the top three qualifiers in series history.