Jack BarlowIt was the finale that Formula One’s ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone would definitely approve of. After eight, hard-fought rounds that had taken the drivers 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 Barlow. The Wavertree Motorsport driver saw it differently however. With his nearest rival, Harry Crawley, needing to win the race and set the fastest lap, Jack 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, Jack 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 Barlow’s turn to lead the chasing pack of 25 karts.

Having shaken off the challenge from the 3rd-placed driver in the championship, he 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 with the leader. Similarly, Crawley could not risk a crash either, and so attempted to back Jack into the clutches of the pack.

Jack explains, “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, Barlow 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. Barlow 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, Jack 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 Snr for my engine rebuilds, mum and dad, my sister Jess for being my biggest fan, Ben my brother and my sponsors 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.

Photo by Chris Walker/Kartpix.