Student from Rye College joins Jenson & Lewis at motorsport Oscars
By Adam Jones
Local karting star appears alongside F1 superstars at glittering award ceremony
Jack Barlow enjoyed a taste of what future superstardom could be like when he rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in world motor racing at the annual Autosport Awards, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, London last Sunday (6 December).
The 14-year old from Pett joined a host of past and present motorsport legends to collect his trophy for winning the Lewis Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone-backed Formula Kart Stars championship – one of British karting’s most important titles.
As he was heading to the ceremony, he bumped into former World Formula One Champion, Lewis Hamilton, who was aware of and keen to chat about, Jack’s successful year in the Mini Max class.
Later, he stood in front of over one thousand of motorsport’s movers and shakers to receive his trophy, presented by Toyota F1 sensation Kamui Kobayashi. After a series of further awards and presentations, Jack was asked to return to the stage to join all the evening’s winners and found himself in conversation with Stefano Domenicali (manager of Ferrari’s F1 team) Ron Dennis (McLaren supremo) and the newly crowned World Champion, Jenson Button.
“It was amazing” the Rye College student said.
“Everywhere I looked there was somebody famous, and who could give you a life-changing opportunity. My ambition is to race in Formula One, so to be surrounded by team bosses and be able to talk to them was incredible.”
For many youngsters, meeting their heroes might be a little daunting – but for Jack, who first met Jenson at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, it was a chance to remind the ‘Frome Flyer’ that he owed Jack a pen.
“At Goodwood I asked Jenson for his autograph and he didn’t have a pen. I gave him mine, but he then asked if he could borrow it for a little longer. I said ‘no problem’ because I didn’t think for a minute that a multi-millionaire who lives in Monaco would need to nick it!” he joked.
Cornered, the former Brawn GP ace tried to bluff his way out of the situation saying, “It’s by my bed. I’m keeping it safe for you!”
This was Jack’s first experience of the biggest award ceremony of its kind in the world, and he is determined that it won’t be the last. “I really enjoyed going up on stage, hearing my name and receiving the audience’s applause. Jenson got the biggest cheers of the night for his achievement this year. I am determined that one year that level of applause will be for me.”
Jack clinches Formula Kart Stars Mini-Max crown with second place at Whilton Mill.
It was the finale that Formula One’s ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone would definitely approve of. After eight, hard-fought rounds that had taken Jack from Cambridgeshire to Cumbria, Wales to Belgium, this year’s Formula Kart Stars Mini Max championship had gone down to the last race of the season – at Whilton Mill, Northamptonshire last weekend (3/4 October).
Having topped the points table from the outset, many onlookers could have been forgiven for thinking that all the pressure lay on Jack. He saw it differently however. With his nearest rival, Harry Crawley, needing to win the race and set the fastest lap, the Wavertree Motorsport star knew that 4th placer of higher would seal the title at his first full attempt – “I was quite relaxed. Harry was the one who had all the hard work to do,” he observed coolly.
In the last few seconds of timed qualifying, he grabbed pole position by just 1/100th of a second to take first blood on Sunday.
A sharp blow of a whistle cleared the grid of mechanics and well-wishers, leaving Jack to focus on his game-plan. From the start he got the jump on the pack, and quickly opened a commanding lead, but a crash brought out the safety flags and the field duly bunched up behind him. Passed at the re-start, it was now his turn to lead the chasing pack of 25 karts.
Having shaken off the challenge from the 3rd-placed driver in the championship, Jack began to reel in the leader, Crawley. Once he’d caught him, an enthralling game of cat-and-mouse ensued. Although visibly faster, Jack could not risk a passing manoeuvre and a possible collision. Similarly, Crawley could not hazard a crash either, and so attempted to back Jack into the clutches of the pack.
“Harry came right off the gas going into the Boot (corner) and I thought, ‘Oh my God, what’s he doing?’ but after a couple of laps he stopped.”
Displaying maturity allied with an incisive racing brain, the reigning Kart Masters and Brazilian Cup champion responded in kind by slowing down to create a sizeable amount of daylight between the pair, and then went back on the attack.
“Matt [Napolitano, boss of Wavertree Motorsport] gave me the signal and I chased Harry down”. It was a brilliant tactic. Jack set the fastest lap of the race and in doing so took the ten extra points available – making sure that Crawley could win the race, but not the title. As he explained afterwards, “I went for the Championship, not the glory and settled for second.”
Asked how he felt as he drove towards the chequered flag, Jack said “Just everything; excitement, elation, relief.” Referring to the prize of competing in Formula Kart Stars’ sister series in America, he added that he used that as an incentive to overcome a nasty bout of flu and win his first major championship title, “I just want to go to Florida! I’ve not been before. The race is in January but I’m going to try and convince my mum and dad that we should practice there for at least a month before!”
Paying tribute to the people who helped him to achieve his success throughout the year, Jack said “I’ve got to thank Matt loads and Paul Napolitano Senior for my engine rebuilds, mum and dad, my sister Jess for being my biggest fan, Ben my brother and my sponsors; Freem UK, Philip Standen Electrical Services, Key Motor Finance, D & C Gould Property, Skinners of Rye, Azur and of course, all the staff and my friends at Rye College who have supported my racing career”.
To keep up to speed with Jack’s career, visit www.jackbarlow.co.uk
“Rye’s Own ” January 2010
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