By Adam Jones
Two top ten finishes in last Sunday’s (9 May) third round of the British Super 1 Kart Championship injected fresh hope into Jack Barlow’s title chances.
The 14-year old from Pett needed to deliver strong performances in the two points-scoring finals, at Whilton Mill near Daventry, if he was to remain in touch with the early series leaders. His weekend started brightly enough when he posted the 6th-fastest lap time during qualifying, but disaster struck in his following heat when his kart broke down. Knowing that he now needed a top five finish if he was to avoid trying to qualify for Sunday’s finals without having to go via the repecharge (last-chance race), the Rye College student duly delivered. Fourth place was sufficient to make the cut, but meant he would start just four places from the back of the grid for the pre-final.
A blistering drive through the field saw Jack break into the top ten but a brief trip onto the grass – from another kart dropping radiator fluid – caused some anxious moments for his family and team. Regaining the circuit, he still had time to fight his way back to 9th place by the time the chequered flag was waved.
Now buoyed and sensing that a podium was possible, Jack went into the main final with renewed confidence -“I had such a strong year [in the Mini Max class] that I became used to running at the front. Since I moved into Junior Max, I’ve had a bit of bad luck and not got the results that I, or my team, felt were possible. But as I waited for the start on Sunday, knowing that I’d driven from 26th to 9th, I began to think that maybe my luck had changed.”
After the opening exchanges of the first lap, it appeared so. Jack was already up to 5th place [from 9th on the grid] as he crossed the line to start the second lap. In a superb move, he leapt up to 3rd but found himself pushed back to 4th almost immediately. Seeing the lead pair beginning to pull away, Jack darted left and right looking for a way past the driver in 3rd, whilst also coming under attack from the kart behind.
As the race unfolded, it became evident that Barlow could not match his rivals speed through certain corners, but was able to peg the gaps elsewhere around the picturesque Northamptonshire track. This kept him in the hunt throughout but the last lap board signalled some desperate manoeuvres. A tap from behind, unsettled his rhythm and with a gaggle of four karts jockeying and vying around him like demented horses in a point-to-point, something had to give. Emerging out of the last corner, Jack was in 8th place and whilst he later expressed his frustration – “I really wanted 3rd because I thought it was genuinely possible” – it was a good enough result to propel him from 25th to 16th in the championship table, within touching distance of the points leaders.“There are eight points-scoring finals to go,” he said. “At Whilton Mill, some of the early front-runners dropped points, whilst I picked up a load. It still leaves me with a lot of work to do overall, but the pressure’s off me and on the guys at the top. I now have races in the Formula Kart Stars and Euro Max championships, which will give me vital seat-time whilst a lot of the other drivers will sit one of the events, or both, out. Hopefully that will give me the edge when Super 1 resumes next month at Buckmore Park – a circuit I know very well.”
First printed in “Rye’s Own” June 2010