Ben Barker claimed Hankook’s first ARC heat win at Rally Victoria (3)Ben Barker claimed Hankook’s first ARC heat win at Rally Victoria (1)Ben Barker claimed Hankook’s first ARC heat win at Rally Victoria (2)

 

  • Barker’s BMW claims Australian Rally Championship win on Hankook Ventus tyres.
  • First ARC gravel rally win for Hankook tyres in Australia.

Ben Barker and Damien Long claimed a maiden heat win for Hankook tyres during the final round of the 2013 Australian Rally Championship, also giving Hankook its first Australian gravel rally victory.

Running Hankook Ventus R203 tyres on his 1983 BMW 320i in the Classic Rally Challenge category, the 2003-2005 Toyota Australia factory ARC driver claimed the fastest combined time during heat one of Rally Victoria.

Fastest over the four stages by as little as 2.2 seconds, and as much as 22 seconds, South Coast New South Welshman, Barker finished 57 seconds in front of his nearest rival after 55km of competitive stages, running Hankook’s Ventus R203 gravel rally tyre.

The R203 is also used as the control tyre on the Ford Fiestas in the current Junior World Rally Championship.

“I’ve run on two other leading brands,” explains Barker, “and the Hankooks are a solid tyre at a competitive price. They brake and drive quite well, and I’ve had an incredibly good run on them, durability wise. In three years, I’ve only ever had one puncture!”

Barker’s BMW is not short of power either: “It’s all fairly standard on the outside, but inside it’s all M3,” explained Ben. The engine is an ex-Frank Gardner-built 2.5-litre four-cylinder, similar to the engine used in 1990s touring car racing, producing around 250hp at the wheels (300hp at engine) and peaking around 8500rpm.

In a package that weighs less than 1100kg, putting that power down through just two tyres is a decent challenge, handled by the 170/650R15 medium compound Hankook Ventus R203.

“I’ve been running the Hankook R202 in recent years; in wet conditions I needed to make some drive cuts [extra cuts in the tyre to aid grip in specific conditions, as per Hankook’s Rally Tyre Cutting Manual], but since using the R203, I haven’t touched it – even in the wet of Rally Victoria.

Ben’s Rally Victoria heat win was helped by Classic Rally Challenge champion and Neal Bates retiring on stage one, but Barker remained focused over the 43 minutes of combined stage times to lead the class and win heat one.

During Sunday’s heat two, Ben and Damien were back on pace, battling with Bates, until the BMW suffered a mechanical issue part way through the day. Ben plans on returning the BMW to the Classic competition field in 2014 on a number of selected ARC rallies.

For now, Ben’s focus is on this weekend, when he will compete with uncle Pip Barker in the 100-stong field of the 2013 Alpine Rally of East Gippsland, on Hankook Ventus tyres.

Ben Barker Wins ARC Heat on Hankook Tyres

    Ben Barker Wins ARC Heat on Hankook Tyres

    • Barker’s BMW claims Australian Rally Championship win on Hankook Ventus tyres.
    • First ARC gravel rally win for Hankook tyres in Australia.

    Ben Barker and Damien Long claimed a maiden heat win for Hankook tyres during the final round of the 2013 Australian Rally Championship, also giving Hankook its first Australian gravel rally victory.

    Running Hankook Ventus R203 tyres on his 1983 B