Jack BarlowThe Jamun Racing driver also starred in front of a capacity crowd at Brand Hatch (30 March) with a stunning recovery drive after stalling on the grid.

“Well, it was an eventful weekend!” was how he summed up the opening event of the season. “I definitely need to brush up my qualifying and starts, as that’s where it went wrong for me.”

The 18-year old from Hastings was ruing his inability to translate his blistering pace in Friday’s wet practice session into a front-row grid position when it really mattered. His frustration was further compounded 24-hours later when his car stalled at the start of Sunday’s race.

His own harshest critic, Jack was perhaps being a little too hard on himself. In a close-fought session against the clock, the top ten grid positions were separated by just eight-tenths of a second, with Barlow seventh-fastest.

“I didn’t get the best of starts,” he said after Saturday’s curtain-raiser. “I hadn’t even had the chance to practice a start before the race, so I dropped back and had to pick my way through the traffic.” Having got up to 4th Loughborough College student lined up Sam Brabham. “I got up to behind Sam, who really put up a fight and did a great job of defending, but he left the door open going into Druids (corner) and that was my opportunity to stick it down his inside.” When Brabham tangled with the driver behind him, Barlow was clear to bring his distinctive red Mygale home in a comfortable 3rd place – to claim his first silverware of the season.

A solid 5th place in the following race – despite struggling with a mishandling car – helped Barlow bank more valuable championship points. This put him into a respectable 4th place overall ahead of Sunday’s encounter in front of large crowds – attracted by the opening races of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).

Thousands of fans had their hearts in their mouths as the Formula Ford field accelerated away from the starting grid, with several cars swerving to avoid collecting the stationary Barlow. After a few agonizing moments, his engine sparked into life and he streaked off in hot pursuit.

“You couldn’t see on the TV that I put in some proper, hairy moves!” he told reporters later. “I passed two cars going into Paddock Hill Bend and went round the outside of James Abbott at Druids.”

It was a scintillating drive, and one that moved complete strangers to congratulate him in the paddock afterwards: “People were coming up to me and saying ‘Were you in the red car? Oh man, you were awesome!’ and things like that. My team was delighted and even people from other teams were praising me for my pace and over-taking skills but I was just frustrated that I fluffed my start.”

Jack retained his 4th-place position in the points table and is now preparing for the series’ visit to Donington Park in Leicestershire (19/20 April). “Between now and then, I’m going to be practicing my starts!” he said – half joking. “If I can sort them out and find a little more qualifying speed, then we’ll be able to challenge for more podiums and hopefully, race wins.”

Jack would like to thank his marketing partners Skinners of Rye, Key Motor Finance and Corbeau Seats for their valued support.