Jack Barlow on the Podium

Jack Barlow on podium at inaugural International Open

Rain in Spain made life far from plain for Jack Barlow last weekend (30/31 October). Despite the challenging conditions at Zuera, near Zaragoza, the 15-year old karting star from Pett delivered one of his strongest performances in the wet to give himself a chance of winning the first ever International Open.

In pre-race testing Jack had been one of the fastest drivers but could only record the 13th-fastest lap time after a frustrating qualifying session: “When I went out onto the circuit, I found the other drivers were stopping at the side of the track. They were waiting for a kart to come along and give them a ‘tow’. The Zuera circuit is huge (1700 metres long), so following in someone else’s slipstream became essential. I got stuck in the pack and couldn’t get a clear lap. It wasn’t just me though. The top five fastest in testing were also out of the top ten in qualifying.”

Matters barely improved in the first heat, when the Rye College student was hit off the circuit at the start. Dropping to last place, Jack was able to rejoin but could finish no higher than 13th. However, victory in the following race saw the beginning of an impressive fightback into overall contention.

“I won by six and a half seconds,” said Jack. “It was a wet race and I was over one second a lap quicker than anyone else.”

He was leading the third heat when a slight mistake saw him hook two wheels off the circuit, costing him two places. “The track conditions had changed from the earlier race and the racing line (the fastest way round the track) had changed and I was pushing hard,” Jack explained with characteristic honesty. Still, 3rd placed added to his 1st and 13th gave him a good enough points tally to qualify in 5th position for the pre-final.

Jack Barlow in the Thick of it
Jack Barlow in the Thick of it

With rooster tails of spray coming off the karts’ tyres, visibility was difficult but Barlow picked his way up the order to challenge his Strawberry Racing team-mate Joel Affolter (Holland) for 2nd place. The reigning Euro Max champion defended his position, forcing Jack to pull off a daring manoeuvre: “I had to get off the racing line to pass him. It was quite hairy but I managed to keep the kart pointing forwards and take the place.”

Again he was the fastest driver on the circuit and having caught the race leader; he made his decisive move on the last lap and crossed the line well ahead of his pursuers.

With Affolter directly behind him on the grid for the winner-takes-all final, Jack formed a strategy to see the pair go clear in the race’s early stages and fight for the victory at the end. Unfortunately, the now drying conditions played to the Dutch driver’s advantage and not Barlow’s.

“I wasn’t fast enough to hold Joel off. I was losing three to four kart lengths on him through the slower

bends. In the faster corners I could catch him but my engine lacked bottom-end grunt and so he passed me and edged away. I tried to hang on to 2nd place and had quite a big gap over the chasing pack. Eventually one driver broke free and chased me down. I defended hard but knew that he would eventually get past. I glanced over my shoulder and saw that we were well clear of the others and settled for 3rd rather than risk a coming together.” He added: “I’m pleased. It’s nice to be among the trophies and prizes again, although I would have liked to have won and been the first ever International Open Champion. My performance, especially in the wet, has given me confidence before the World Finals at La Conca (14-21 November).”

Keep on track with Jack and his racing career by visiting www.jackbarlowracing.co.uk

December 2010 issue of “Rye’s Own”

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