Takes Pole Position and Wins


Emotional victory for Barlow at Oulton Park

By Adam Jones

Less than 24- hours before setting the pole position time for the tenth round of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship, Jack Barlow’s promising career had looked to be over due to a lack of cash. However, an unexpected, last-minute gift from his uncle ensured that the local star, who lives at Fairlight overlooking Romney Marshes and went to school at Rye, kept his title challenge on track.

Despite winning in only his second ever car race at Silverstone – the home of the British Grand Prix – and demonstrating his ability with a string of excellent performances in subsequent events, the 18-year old had failed to find a backer to keep his race seat. With his glittering track record in karts and talent at the wheel of a single-seater racing car looking to become little more than a string of happy memories, Jack was elated to find that his uncle Gary – who owns Skinner’s of Rye – had stepped in to ensure that his nephew could compete at the Cheshire venue.

The family connection was also deepened by the fact that Gary and Jack’s father, Paul, had grown up in the nearby town of Winsford, located just five miles from the picturesque circuit. Ironically though, Jack himself had never seen the demanding 2.6 mile course.

Undaunted, he quickly got to grips with it and was consistently one of the fastest runners in practice but after pushing his car too hard in the final session, he crashed and damaged the front, left-hand side of the car. Back in the pits, Barlow slumped against the garage wall and couldn’t hide his tears: “It was a bad end to the day”, he said. “I got upset because I’m constantly frustrated by a lack of finance. I looked at the damage and thought ‘My dad can’t afford to pay for that’. Mum talked me round and the team (Sean Walkinshaw Racing) was very understanding and supportive. I went for a track walk with the team’s driver coach that evening and that really helped me to clear my head and re-focus for timed qualifying.

” With just two minutes of the session to spare, Jack posted the fastest lap time to secure pole for the first race: “I had been 6th-quickest for much of the session and would have been satisfied with that, considering it was my first time at Oulton. I decided to push harder and went P2, so I pushed again and managed to pop in the pole time. I was delighted, as no one really expected me to grab pole position in the circumstances.”

With the nature of the track making overtaking a particular challenge, Jack knew that his position at the head of the field gave him the upper hand from the outset: “I needed to maintain my advantage through the first few corners and then settle down” he explained – and his strategy paid off. “I was pushed hard in the opening stages by Jake Hughes (Birmingham) but chipped away to extend my lead and eventually won quite comfortably.”

Buoyed by this, Jack went into the second race looking for another strong finish, although, with the drivers’ finishing positions in race one being reversed for the following encounter, Barlow knew he’d have a tough time starting from eighth spot. This was borne out when he took the chequered flag in 7th place. “It was annoying. Seb Morris (Wrexham) defended all the way. I couldn’t get a run on him and the concertina effect, created by the long straights and tight corners added to the  in  stalemate.”

Nevertheless, the race yielded a positive for Jack, as he set the third-fastest lap which gave him P3 for the day’s third and final blast round the park.

A slightly fluffed start dropped Jack to fourth as the field streaked off the line but he managed to keep in touch with the leading trio. After dropping South Africa’s Raoul Hyman, Barlow maintained a watching brief on the leaders, hoping to capitalise on any mistake. In a bid to put third-placed Charlie Robertson (Whyteleafe) under pressure, Jack out-braked himself at the semi-banked Shell Oils Corner and lost some ground. Deciding that it was better to go for points rather than the glory of a podium but risk crashing on fading tyres, he settled for fourth.

“I’ve moved up to 6th in the points table now and it’s really close. My main priority is to find some financial backing, which will help me to stay in the championship and get some much-needed time testing ahead of each round. Seat-time is critical, so I hope someone out there can help. I think I can take at least another win and some podiums. Anything is possible and after Oulton Park, I’ve shown that I’m capable of beating the odds and pulling off surprises, so we’ll just have to see.”

If you would like to back Jack, call Paul Barlow on 07900 440 500. You can keep up to speed with Jack’s progress and learn more about the BRDC F4 series by clicking on www.formula4.com.

Highlights of the action from Oulton Park, including Jack’s brilliant lights-to-flag triumph, were shown on ITV4 on Sunday 14 July.

Rye’s Own August 2013

All articles, photographs and drawings on this web site are World Copyright Protected. No reproduction for publication without prior arrangement.