Jack Barlow scooped the Ginetta Super One Junior Rotax crown at Three Sisters last Sunday (16 October), adding to an already impressive tally of victories; including the Kartmasters Grand Prix and Rotax Cup titles.
The Strawberry Racing star had gone into the seventh and final round of the series leading by just a handful of points, but was in confident mood having won the Rotax Cup just two weeks earlier.
In Timed Qualifying, Jack narrowly missed out on setting the pole position time during his session - by just one hundredth of a second. “I had a really good qualifying. Thankfully it was my team-mate (Rob Holland) who pipped me rather than anyone else,” he told reporters. “I think overall I was the faster of us but Rob just managed to get a very good lap in.”
Starting from second place on the grid for his first heat, the Arai, Superdry and adidas-supported driver went on to claim a comfortable win before taking another emphatic lights-to-flag victory in the following race. This gave him pole-position for what became the title-decider.
Not that he was aware of this, as Strawberry’s team manager Warwick Ringham, opted to keep him focusing on the race rather than the Championship table.
“Warwick wouldn’t tell me what the points difference was between me and my nearest rivals. He just told me to go out and win. From the start I got a gap (over the chasing group) with Sam Marsh, but Warwick signaled to me that I should let him through. I did this and from there just pushed him round the track. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as quick as I’d have like. After a few laps I could see the team saying ‘push, push, push’ and knew this meant the pack was gaining on us.”
At the head of that pursuing group was Jack’s closest challenger for the Championship, Nathan Harrison. “He caught up because Sam had started to defend his lead - which was pretty stressful for me because, to win the title, I had to finish ahead of Harrison. I think I could have passed Sam, but the team didn’t want me to risk crashing so I stayed put.”
Barlow crossed the finishing line in 2nd place, but wasn’t aware that he’d done enough to seal the Championship: “I didn’t know I’d won. I looked up at the team truck and the guys just put their thumbs up. In Parc Ferme I was saying to my mechanic Andy Horne, ‘Have I done it, have I done it?’”
On his return to the Strawberry Racing awning, Jack quickly calculated the points positions and to his relief, realized he was the Champion. “I walked over to Andy (Horne) and gave him a big hug.”
Jack also praised the level of competition that exists in the Rotax classes at present: “This is one of the hardest championships to win in karting. The standard is extremely good and I’ve beaten over fifty other drivers, so I’m very proud and pleased with what we’ve achieved. It is the perfect reward for the people and companies that have helped and supported me. I am very grateful to Andy, Warwick and Dodge (Dave Gregory) and everyone else at Strawberry Racing, Arai, Adidas and Superdry, Key Motor Finance, Rollersigns, Jonathan Walker, 100ccPR and of course, my family.”
Before he graduates to the Senior Max class in 2012, Jack’s next big challenge is the annual Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, held this year at the home of the Dubai Grand Prix, the Al Ain Raceway (23-26 November).