By Adam Jones
A rare error denied Jack Barlow a possible second victory in the latest round of Britain’s top karting championship at Rowrah in Cumbria (18/19August).
Sited in a former quarry and surrounded by the Lakeland fells, Rowrah is arguably Britain’s most picturesque and charismatic circuit. It possesses fast straights, hairpin corners and tricky chicanes. Mistakes can be punished by the high kerbs or collisions with unforgiving barriers. Prior to timed qualifying, 17-year old Jack was lying 3rd overall in the championship standings and had high hopes for the weekend. A slight miscalculation during the session saw him record the 4th-fastest lap time, as Jack explains: “It had been raining and the track was drying. I had a set of new wets (special racing tyres with grooves cut into them to displace water) on my kart and didn’t want to ruin them by pounding round for the full session. However, this gave me less time on the circuit, and of course with less water to help the tyres keep cool and work at their best. 4th wasn’t too bad, but it certainly wasn’t where I wanted to be.”
Undeterred and demonstrating the grit and ability that has marked him as one of the UK’s most outstanding talents, Barlow won the first of the two heats.
“I won comfortably, by over a second and a half,” he said reflecting on a race marred by controversial tactics from one of his rivals. “The two guys I’m fighting for the title with crashed and nothing was done about it. One of the officials resigned from the event in protest. Thankfully I was well clear and their coming together certainly helped me.”
In the following race, the Pett racer was 3rd, earning him P2 on the starting grid for Sunday’s first points-scoring final.
“I managed to get into the lead at the start, but was hit from behind as I braked for the second hairpin. This pushed me wide, but the offending driver was given a one-place penalty boosting me to 2nd after the chequered flag.” This also gave Jack a valuable haul of points towards his bid to add the highly prized KF2 crown to the Super One Junior Rotax title he won in brilliant style last year.
In the main final, he had been pushed down a place in the surge to the fast, but tight, first right-hander almost immediately after the start. Reigning champion Mark Litchfield used all his experience and the advantage of an open track ahead of him to create an instant breakaway. In his wake, Jack was trying hard to stay in touch with fellow championship protagonist Ben Barnicoat: “I was close, but not quite enough. I knew I had to push really hard if I was to bridge the gap and went in very late on the brakes as we approached the second hairpin.I was carrying too much speed and locked the front brakes. The kart got away from me and I spun.
” This dropped the would-be Formula One star down the order, prompting an exciting recovery drive. He had clawed his way back into 4th spot with four minutes remaining and was desperately hoping to claim another podium finish.
“I was catching Alex Hamilton (in 3rd) at the rate of eight tenths (of a second) per lap. I was catching him hand over fist, but simply ran out of time to launch a passing move.” Jack added: “I’m still in touch with the championship lead and with four finals to go. That represents a total of two hundred points that are up for grabs and I’m just twenty off the top of the table. I’m the underdog now, which means the pressure is off but it doesn’t mean that all bets are too.”
Keep up to speed with Jack and his racing career by visiting www.jackbarlowracing.co.uk