Jack Barlow delivered a fighting performance in the final round of the British Super One KF2 championship at Shenington in Oxfordshire (30 September).
A nasty crash during the opening laps of timed qualifying put-paid to his chances of claiming a good grid position for the two preliminary heats and he was forced to start from the back of the field.
Im not entirely sure what caused it, he explained, I came out of a corner onto a fast straight and there were several karts stopped on the track ahead of me. I hit the brakes hard to avoid collecting any of them, but the driver behind me was unsighted and he ran into the back of my kart so hard that he drove over the top of me.
Neither Barlow or the other competitors were hurt and he went on to score 3rd and 2nd place finishes in the heats to line up on the front row of the grid for the first of Sundays two finals.
The pole-sitter, Ben Barnicoat, jumped clear of the chasing pack immediately from the start, with reigning champion Mark Litchfield in hot pursuit and Barlow close behind. Knowing he could not afford to let his rival romp away into the distance, Jack mounted a spirited attack on Litchfields 2nd place and his persistence paid off. He then reeled in Barnicoat, to set up a nerve-wracking run to the chequered flag.
Seeing his chance, Jack powered alongside Barnicoat and they were wheel to wheel as they began to brake for one of Sheningtons notoriously tricky corners: We were neck and neck and touched. By the time I had recovered, it was game over, Barlow rued in the paddock after crossing the finishing line as the frustrated runner-up.
As the field rocketed into the fast left-hander followed by a sweeping right and flat-out left combination of corners, Jack put the hammer down and swept into the lead at the start of the second final. Once he had fought his way clear of the pack, Barnicoat only had Barlow ahead of him and he began to chase him down. On the penultimate tour he snatched the lead under heavy braking for the circuits first hairpin. Barlow responded by carrying more speed through the exit of the Chicane and powered back to the front. It was nail-biting stuff and the large crowd was standing on tip-toe as it tried to see every passing manoeuvre on the final lap.
Going up to the first Hairpin again, Barlow had a two to three kart-length advantage and so took the usual racing, rather than defensive, line into the corner. Barnicoat saw his chance and lunged down Jacks inside. He managed to scrabble through the corner with his nose just ahead of Barlows Tony Kart. The remainder of the lap saw the Arai and adidas-supported teenager desperately trying to retake the advantage, but he was ultimately forced to accept 2nd place.
I made a mistake, Jack admitted with characteristic honesty, adding But it was the one that cost me the race. I needed to win both finals and for Ben and Mark to not finish, so it was always going to be an uphill task for me to nick the championship from either of them. Still, Im proud that I took it down to the wire and never gave up. Ive not had the best season in terms of luck but never stopped trying.
Jack will contest the final round of the Super One Rotax Max series, again at Shenington, this weekend (13/14 October) before turning his attentions to car racing: This could be my last serious kart race in the UK. After that, I hope to graduate to the new Formula 4 Championship and would love to sign off my karting career with another victory.