Jack takes shock maiden British Championship victory in Cumbria
Jack Barlow scored a superb - if unexpected - triumph at the challenging Rowrah circuit on Sunday (26 April).
After a strong showing in practice, followed by recording the ninth fastest lap in Timed Qualifying, the Wavertree Motorsport driver opened his account with a well-judged 2nd place in Saturday’s only heat. So far so good. But things started to unravel the following morning, when during the Warm Up session, he and his team discovered that they were half a second off the pace. The problem was quickly traced to tyre issues, and the 13 year-old prepared for his first heat with renewed confidence.
It was to be short-lived. In a scrappy race, the East Sussex youngster tangled with a rival leading to “a trip into the scenery” - although he did finish a creditable 8th. An encouraging word from dad Paul however, was sufficient to bring back the Barlow spirit and, having qualified in 5th place for the Pre-Final, Jack and his team were beginning to believe that they might just be capable of pulling off a shock result at a circuit Jack has only visited once before.
A series of incisive moves saw him quickly propel his Octane chassis from the 3rd row into 2nd place. On the last lap, he went for the lead, but found Kyle Fowlie in no mood to give up without a fight - “We ran towards a corner and I went to put my kart down Kyle’s inside”, Jack explained. “He blocked me, so I switched to the outside of the corner to run deeper into the corner and then cut back on his inside again. Unfortunately I clipped him, hit the back of his radiator and became hooked on his rear bumper.”
After disentangling himself, Jack fought his way back up to 6th but the officials took a dim view of his over-exuberant move and handed him a four second penalty – putting him down to 12th place.
As he prepared to drive out of the pits for the Main Final, Wavertree team boss, Matt Napolitano had some last minute advice for Jack. “I thought, ‘Oh I’m not going to win now but a top five finish would be good’ but Matt said to me, ‘Just get through the start and you’ll be okay’.”
As the field stampeded into the tight right-hander, Jack was “bashed all over the place” but he did what he’d been told and survived the opening lap. From there, he began top pick his way through the melee, and now with the speed he’d shown in practice, he was able to get up to third place - “I was shadowing the first and second-placed drivers and we came across a back-marker. She pointed them through but didn’t see me and chopped back onto the racing-line and almost took the nosecone off my kart.”
This allowed the lead pair to pull away again but Jack was eventually able to lap the tail-ender and close in again. He took second by diving late on the brakes into the first hairpin and set about wresting the lead from Harrison Scott. In a carbon copy of the Pre-Final, Jack waited until the last lap to make his move and bravely decided to repeat his earlier, ill-fated manoeuvre. At the second time of asking, it worked to perfection and with just enough of a gap, he held on in the dash to the chequered flag.
“It was unbelievable!” he beamed. “I’m over the moon but I never expected it though. Not after the earlier dramas. This has fired me up for the next round and the rest of the Championship now. I’m third in the points table but we go to Buckmore Park (in Kent) next and it’s a circuit I know well. This win has boosted my confidence.”