Barker wants to embrace lead driver role this year

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Ben Barker says he wants to make the most of being the lead driver for Gulf Racing in the upcoming 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship.

The Clare-raised driver is set for a second season in the World Endurance Championship, having been confirmed at the weekend as the lead driver for Gulf Racing’s GTE-Am entry.

Barker made his debut in the prestigious series with the Gulf Racing team last year and made a big impression, with his pace in the #86 Porsche 911 RSR earning him the Pro Gold driver status for 2017.

“I’m looking forward to the start of the season,” the 25-year-old said. “This is a big part of my career.”

“Being the lead driver is an important thing for me and I want to stay in this position as a lead driver for the rest of my career.

“I performed well last year and the team said they wanted to keep me on. To be offered the lead driver role is a good opportunity for me. I want to make the most of it.”

This year’s World Endurance Championship once again features nine rounds and takes in famous circuits such as Silverstone, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and the Nürburgring, as well as the world renowned Circuit de la Sarthe, which hosts the 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

Barker will be alongside Mike Wainwright and an as yet unnamed third driver for the 2017 season and is hoping he can help the Gulf Racing team improve on last year’s results.

“I’ve got a bit more experience now,” he said. “Hopefully we can go better than last year and I can help improve the team’s results this year.

“I’m looking forward to kicking off the season on home soil at Silverstone in April, and we’ll also be visiting both Spa-Francorchamps and the Circuit of the Americas in Texas, so there’s plenty to look forward to.

“Of course, however, nothing can top Le Mans, and I’m excited to be making my second appearance in the 24 Hours in June.

“There was a lot to be pleased about Gulf’s debut season in the WEC, and I’m sure the team will continue to improve in 2017.”

The opening round of the World Endurance Championship takes place at the 6 Hours of Silverstone over the weekend of April 14-16.

Before the season opener at Silverstone, Barker will be at the official pre-season test in Italy on April 1-2.

Barker’s Diary Dates

April 16 - 6 Hours of Silverstone (Silverstone, UK)

May 6 - 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Spa, Belgium)

June 17-18 - 24 Hours of Le Mans (Le Mans, France)

July 16 - 6 Hours of Nürburgring (Nürburg, Germany)

September 3 - 6 Hours of Mexico (Mexico City, Mexico)

September 16 - 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas (Austin, United States)

October 15 - 6 Hours of Fuji (Oyama, Japan)

November 5 - 6 Hours of Shanghai (Shanghai, China)

November 18 - 6 Hours of Bahrain (Sakhir, Bahrain)