Late Model driver Gordon Barnes waiting for his first Top 20-results

Credits: Marko Stipp Motorsport

In the winter break Gordon Barnes participated in the Drivers Recruitment Program of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. His goal for 2020 is to drive in the EuroNASCAR Club Challenge. At the moment he is part of Marko Stipp Motorsport in the EuroNASCAR Esports Series, driving the Chevrolet Camaro with the #246.

Gordon Barnes started his career in single seaters. As funding had been a problem, he stopped and only in 2010 he returned to the race track. In 2011 he had an opportunity to drive a Late Model on a short track. This marked the beginning of his interest in Late Models and oval racing. In 2018 Barnes joined Hendriks Motorsport and did a full season in the LMV8 at Raceway Venray. Due to the Brexit, like many british drivers, he was having problems with the funding in 2019 and had to delay his plans. In the winter 2019 he was accepted for the Drivers Recruitment Program of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and had the chance to test the cars of the EuroNASCAR. He plans on participating in the Club Challenge in 2020. “I will be in the Club Challenge, that’s the plan for 2020. Just discussing which car for the various rounds. Getting into the 46? That would be good. It would be good to continue with the same team after the esports and into the real”, Barnes said in an interview with Threewide.

Credits: Gordon Barnes

The first race for Barnes in the ENES was his home round at Brands Hatch Indy. He was on P29 after the qualifying and started his heat from 10th position. In his heat, he gained 2 positions and crossed the finish line on P8, which meant the direct qualification for the main race. In the beginning he was able to fight for the Top 20, but then he made a little mistake and spun after Paddock Hill Bend and lost a lot of positions. In the end he finished on P24.

At Watkins Glen Barnes started from P12 in Heat 1. He was involved in the crash in the very first corner as he couldn’t avoid contact with the #77 of Alexander Graff. He resumed the race from the back of the field, but luckily for him the damage to the car was not too severe. He was able to finish on P9 and get a spot for the main race. With P25 on the starting grid for the main race he was right in the middle of the action during the start of the main race. Like most of the other drivers, he was involved in the second incident in the second corner. He had to resume the race from the back of the field. In the end he crossed the finish line on P24.

The third round at Zandvoort started off quite well for the british driver. He once again finished his heat in the Top 10 and was directly qualified for the main race. And once again, he was involved in an incident at the start. The car with the #141 of Lorenzo Marcucci hit the wall and Gordon Barnes couldn’t avoid contact. He continued the race, but the damage to the car was too bad to fight for a better position. In his third race he finished on P24 for the third time in a row.

The fourth round of the ENES took place on the road course of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “In my view, if you count over 4 at Indianapolis, you’ve made a wrong turn”, Barnes sad with a smile. “I’m an oval racer by background too, so I would much rather we had an oval round. I’m sure we’d surprise a lot of people with our speed on an oval. The biggest problem is the track is very slippery. It’s easy to overdrive the car and lose a lot of time.” He found himself on P29 after the qualifying, which meant P10 on the starting grid for Heat 2. The heat went quite well for him and he finished on P7. For the main race, he started from P20. After the start he found himself on P13, but he was involved in an accident yet again. “Today, my qualifying run wasn’t the best but made up for it in the heat. After the first few corners in the feature, things looked good briefly. When the car in front spun, there wasn’t anywhere to go. After repairs, I returned to the track and gained a few places back. We were still quick in the corners but had no power. Unfortunately, that’s the way in goes sometimes”, Barnes said. In the end he finished on P29.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series/Guillaume Hesnault

Although he has been quite consistent throughout the season in the heats, the results in the main races haven’t met his expectations. “I’ve finished 24th three times, and 29th today. Unfortunately, that hides what’s really going on. The last three events have all involved incidents on the opening lap. The big wreck at Watkins Glen heavily damaged us. Zandvoort we got spun, and today, I couldn’t avoid a spinning car and that sent us to the pits. I feel we should be able to get into the top 20 soon. I think we have the speed, just not had any good luck. I get through the heats each time, no problems there, but afterwards, it’s been challenging.”

Before the start of the ENES, Barnes already had some experience in sim-racing. “I have been sim racing, on and off, for a while. Many years ago my first exposure was with Grand Prix but it isn’t something I’ve done continuously. In recent years, it’s mainly been iRacing. I haven’t always been able to do it due to work, travel, etc. But for the last couple of years, it’s been more frequent. I’ve been a fairly casual player and only recently upgraded to a Fanatec ClubSport set up. Since the start of the ENES series, I’ve been putting in more practice than before. I’m on most days doing a couple of hours of practice. A lot of the time on sims has been ovals. It’s only towards the end of last year that I mainly did road courses.”

On Tuesday the finals with double points will start at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix.

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