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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.

Jack BarlowJack Barlow delivered a remarkable performance on his maiden visit to Oulton Park International Circuit in Cheshire on Saturday, 6th July, by claiming his second BRDC Formula 4 Championship race victory of the season for SWR – having earlier secured his first ever pole position start in cars.

Despite having never seen the challenging track prior to pre-event testing on Friday, 5th July, the Hastings youngster shone in qualifying by taking the top spot on the grid for round 10 with a best lap of 1m37.702 seconds (99.19mph). Netting the win with a faultless lights-to-flag drive, Barlow added seventh place in round 11 and fourth in round 12 to move into the coveted championship top six.

Team-mate Matty Graham was also consistently strong and competitive throughout the fourth race meeting of the year. Hopes of a podium finish in the second of the day’s encounters, though, were ended on lap four of the race at Old Hall following contact from a rival while running in third place.

Finishing in the top six in rounds 10 and 12, however, enabled the Edmundbyers teenager to conclude the Oulton Park weekend equal ninth in the title race for Chipping Norton-based SWR, tied on points with the experienced James Fletcher.

“It’s been a very strong weekend for SWR, we’re delighted to be back on the top step of the podium with Jack”, said team owner Sean Walkinshaw, “He’d never even seen the track before Friday and even though he had a big shunt in testing, he bounced back amazingly to take his first pole and then win the first race – it was a fantastic performance.

“Matty was very strong and consistent all weekend, he really did deserve a podium and was very unlucky not to get one after the contact in race two. Even so, two top sixes in the other races have kept him in the championship top 10 which is obviously important.”

With qualifying and all three Oulton Park races taking place on one day, the action was hectic for the teams and competitors. Everything started brilliantly for SWR though with Barlow claiming his maiden pole and Graham lapping just 0.5 seconds shy to secure a row four start for round 10.

Making a good getaway, Barlow maintained first place on the run into Old Hall and was never under any real threat throughout the 12 lap duration as he took the win 1.2 seconds to the good. Graham, meanwhile, maintained eighth position early on before climbing into seventh on lap five and then taking sixth next time around.

With the top eight finishers of race one ‘reversed’ on the grid for round 11, Graham lined-up in third position with Barlow on row four. Holding on to their respective places for the first third of the encounter, on lap four everything went awry for Graham when his bid for a podium finish came to an abrupt end in the tyre barriers at the first corner following a tangle with Ross Gunn.

Barlow, therefore, inherited seventh place and ran in a tight quartet of cars all contesting fourth position. Running closely behind Jake Hughes lap after lap, the SWR man just couldn’t quite force the mistake he needed and was seventh at the flag – less than a second outside the top four.

For round 12, Barlow started in third place – by virtue of having set the third fastest racing lap of the weekend up to that point – with Graham in eighth position. Although slipping to fourth on the first lap, Barlow held station for the remainder of the 12 lap contest despite some intense pressure from Raoul Hyman and the second SWR car of Graham.

Having moved into seventh on lap one, Graham challenged hard for the top six and made his move on lap three to take the position from erstwhile championship leader Seb Morris. Then setting his sights on Hyman, the karting graduate had to be satisfied with sixth with no further opportunities to try and make more gains opening up.

Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent will host rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship season three weeks from now on 27th/28th July. Chinese driver Zou Sirui, who wasn’t in action at Oulton Park this weekend due to a clashing racing commitment in his homeland, will bring the SWR attack back up to three cars for the fifth event of the campaign.

2013 Provisional BRDC Formula 4 Championship Driver Standings (after Rd12):
6th Jack Barlow, 183pts; =9th Matty Graham & James Fletcher, 140pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Matty Graham - SWROxfordshire motor racing team SWR is setting its sights on three consistently strong results when the BRDC Formula 4 Championship resumes at Oulton Park this coming Saturday, 6th July, where the front-running squad will be striving to get its 2013 season back on track during rounds 10, 11 and 12.

Suffering a major dose of bad luck at Snetterton a fortnight ago, Matty Graham, Jack Barlow and Zou Sirui – who won’t be in action at the weekend due to a clashing commitment at home in China – all got caught-up in unfortunate incidents.

With Barlow and Graham slipping down the championship standings to seventh and ninth position respectively as a result, the Chipping Norton team is determined to reignite its charge and mount a bid for a return to the podium.

So far during its maiden season SWR has enjoyed great success, having claimed its first victory with Hastings driver Barlow in only the second race of the campaign at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit before Edmundbyers teenager Graham secured his debut podium in round three at the squad’s ‘home’ track. SWR is, therefore, confident normal service will be resumed in Cheshire on Saturday.

“Snetterton really was a very tough weekend for a variety of reasons”, commented team owner Sean Walkinshaw, “That’s in the past though, we’re all focused on Oulton Park and confident we can get back into the podium battle there.

“The whole team has done a fantastic job so far this season and Matty had a very good test at Oulton last Friday, so that’s given us a boost ahead of this weekend. Formula 4 is tough, there are some strong, experienced racers at the front, but if all goes smoothly next weekend we’re certain we can be consistently back at the sharp end in all three races.”

Helping SWR’s bid for a successful outing at Oulton Park International Circuit will be new sponsor Saka Natural Mineral Water, one of the country’s fastest-growing water brands, which recently agreed a deal to become an official team drinks partner alongside Mad Dog Energy Lemonade.

All of the Formula 4 action at Oulton Park will take place on Saturday, 6th July, with qualifying set to begin at 08.40 and rounds 10, 11 and 12 set to follow at 11.40, 14.30 and 18.00 respectively.

2013 Provisional BRDC Formula 4 Championship Driver Standings (after Rd9):
7th Jack Barlow, 121pts; 9th Matty Graham, 110pts; Zou Sirui – Does Not Score

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Matty GrahamLeading BRDC Formula 4 Championship team SWR enjoyed a consistently strong showing during the second event of the year at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, 18th/19th May, with Matty Graham a mere 0.058 seconds away from claiming his second podium of 2013 during round six.

All three of the Chipping Norton team’s F4 rookies, Graham, Jack Barlow and Chinese racer Zou Sirui, produced impressive race performances across the three outings at the 1.2-mile Kent track. Each also had the boost of meeting 2009 FIA Formula One World Champion Jenson Button, who was a special guest at Brands Hatch on Sunday for the visiting DTM touring cars.

“It all turned out quite well for us really”, said team owner Sean Walkinshaw, “Our drivers were quick all weekend, we had some good results and were just a bit unlucky really not to come away with a podium. Matty and Jack scored well, they were seriously quick and Zou did a good job too. All three of them delivered some strong showings.”

Quick from the off during practice on Friday, 17th May, Edmundbyers teenager Graham started the weekend very impressively with the fastest time during the first of the two free practice sessions and went on to qualify sixth fastest for the opening race of the weekend.

In an incredibly close session Barlow was ninth fastest, little more than five hundredths of a second outside Graham’s time, while fellow SWR racer Sirui had to settle for 19th on the grid for race one, even though only 0.5 seconds outside Barlow.

Making a great start to Saturday’s fourth round, Graham moved into fifth while Barlow slipped back to 10th but for Sirui the outing only lasted a few yards when he was forced to pull off the track on the run to Paddock Hill Bend with a technical issue.

Graham edged away from the chasing pack during the early laps and by mid-distance he had managed to latch-on to fourth place. Just 0.2 seconds behind into lap 19, Graham got a good run out of Paddock and dived up the inside into Druids to take the position before closing on third towards the finish. In terms of lap times, he was a mere fraction outside the quickest of the race.

Hastings racer Barlow remained in 10th position throughout, pressuring erstwhile championship leader Seb Morris while at the same time fending off the attentions of Diego Menchaca. With overtaking between the evenly matched competitors proving impossible, only a mistake – which wasn’t forthcoming – would have opened a sufficient passing opportunity.

For round five on Sunday afternoon, Graham held onto fifth position off the start with Barlow retaining 10th place and Sirui making progress into the top 20 from the back of the grid after an excellent first couple of laps.

Graham slipped to fifth on lap three and then, on the fourth tour, Barlow sustained damage to his front wing while dicing with Seb Morris for ninth as the latter moved across to the take the inside line on the pit-straight, which Barlow already occupied.

An ensuing spin for Morris resulted in the deployment of the Safety Car and after the re-start on lap 13 Barlow had to summon all of his skill and tenacity to fend off the cars behind. With a distinct lack of downforce due to his deranged front wing, the SWR driver was elbowed wide through the gravel on lap 19 and although slipping to 12th he somehow clung on to the place despite massive pressure.

Graham, meanwhile, also suffered contact during a battle with Sennan Fielding and although dropping to seventh he remained there to the chequered flag on lap 23. Sirui, determined to make amends for his race one disappointment, had an unfortunate tangle with Rahul Raj Mayer on lap four at Clearways and after pitting he eventually finished in 19th place.

In round six, hopes were high of a potential podium finish for Graham with the SWR racer lining-up on the second row of the grid in third place – having posted the third fastest race lap of the weekend to that point.

Although pushed back to fourth at Paddock Hill Bend, he challenged for third as the race wore on and during the closing stages he piled on the pressure. Trying everything he could, and lapping on the same pace as the podium drivers, he just missed out on third by 0.058 seconds on the line.

Barlow impressed with a great drive through from 16th into the top 10 and although his progress was stunted slightly on lap 15, during a battle with Diego Menchaca and Jake Hughes, he fought through to 10th five laps from the conclusion.

Sirui, lining-up on the back row, faced another tall order but produced an impressive drive to climb into the top 20 at one third distance. Although sporting the scars of slight contact which led to the top plane of his nose cone coming loose, Sirui remained focused and worked his way into 17th place.

“Jack did really well in race two to hold everyone off with a damaged front wing”, said Walkinshaw, “In the third race he overtook four or five drivers which, at Brands Hatch Indy, is quite an impressive effort. Matty was quick enough for the podium but, unfortunately, just couldn’t get past. It was great to see Zou get a good finish as well, we definitely ended the weekend on a high.”

SWR now has a four week break from competitive action with the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship season taking place on 15th/16th June at Snetterton in Norfolk.

2013 Provisional BRDC Formula 4 Championship Driver Standings (after Rd6):
4th Matty Graham, 97pts; 5th Jack Barlow, 91pts; Zou Sirui – Does Not Score

Photo by BRDC Formula 4 Championship/Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Jack BarlowPrior to stepping into his SWR-prepared car at Silverstone last Sunday (28 April) Jack Barlow could count the number of races he’d previously contested on one finger – but the 17-year old was about to stun the motorsport world with a sensational drive to victory.

Despite arriving at Silverstone with just three days’ practice time under his belt, following a last-minute deal with Sean Walkinshaw Racing, the highly-rated, former karting star demonstrated his potential by setting the 5 th-fastest lap in Saturday’s timed qualifying session. From this promising start he went on to finish a creditable 6 th place on his car racing debut.

Starting Race 2 from third place, by virtue of a reverse grid based on the top eight drivers’ previous day’s finishing positions, Barlow snatched the lead as the field streamed into Copse.

He was reeled in and passed after two laps, but refused to let new race leader, Seb Morris, escape. A game of cat-and-mouse developed between the pair until, with two laps remaining, Barlow made his move: “I thought ‘I have to go for it’ and stuck my car down Seb’s inside at Becketts, but he held me off. However, I carried better speed through Chapel Curve and onto Hangar Straight. I jinked one way and then the other and drove past as we approached Stowe Corner,” explained Jack. “From there I defended into the chicane at Vale, allowing the 3rd-placed driver to attack for 2nd. This gave me the chance to create a gap and I knew I just had to maintain it through the last lap.”

“Even as I approached the chequered flag, my victory hadn’t sunk in,” he added. “I never, never went there expecting to win. It is a fantastic result for me and SWR. They were all extremely pleased for me and I really couldn’t have done it without them.”

Driving down the pitlane, towards the F1-style board with a large number ‘1’ on it, added to the occasion: “It’s what you see at the end of each Grand Prix and there I was, at Silverstone, doing the same thing. I was presented with my trophy on the F1 podium and of course, got to spray champagne on it. Even now, it hasn’t sunk in!”

In the thrilling battle for 5th place in Race 3, Jack again showed that he has a great future ahead of him by putting on a great show as he diced with Matt Bell, before settling for valuable championship points and 6 th place, to go 4th overall in the championship.

“I am able to race thanks to the support of local firms key Motor Finance and My Costcutter at Skinners of Rye. I would also like to thank everyone at SWR, the MSA Academy, Arai, adidas and Toby Warrington for his continued help.”

Keep up to speed with Jack and his racing career by visiting www.jackbarlowracing.co.uk.

Photo by James Bearne.

Car racing rookies Jack Barlow and Matty Graham starred for SWR during the opening race meeting of the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 Championship season at Silverstone over the weekend, 27th/28th April – Barlow winning only his second ever car race and Graham taking a maiden podium in round three.

Marking a sensational start to the brand new championship for the Chipping Norton team, Barlow’s stunning victory on the full Grand Prix Circuit in round two on Sunday was book-ended by top six finishes in races one and three. The 17-year-old from Hastings, therefore, concluded the event an impressive fourth in the points table, as well as being the highest placed single-seater newcomer.

“To get a win from the first weekend is amazing”, said Barlow, “I’ll come away from Silverstone now thinking about the championship, not just trying to get on the podium which was the aim before the weekend started. I never, ever expected to come out on top, it’s a fantastic start to the season.”

Team-mate, and fellow karting graduate, Graham rounded off his debut weekend in cars with a richly deserved third place finish in the final encounter. Making significant progress throughout the event, the Edmundbyers 16-year-old finished ninth and sixth in the two preceding races and ended the event sixth in the championship.

He also posted the fastest lap in race two and that ended up being the quickest racing lap of the weekend, earning Graham the BRM Rapide Award which he received from FIA Formula One World Championship star Mark Webber.

“I didn’t think a podium was possible really on the first weekend, I was hoping for the top five after seeing how competitive it was in testing”, commented Graham, “To be in the top three is amazing to be honest, I started on pole and was quite nervous and didn’t get the best start but to hold third was great. Our pace has been good, walking away with a trophy too and some prize money is nice!”

Chinese racer Zou Sirui, making his UK race debut this weekend at the home of the British Grand Prix, faced a tough challenge due to almost no pre-season testing and an electrical fault in qualifying which placed him at the back of the grid for the first race.

Fighting his way through into the top 15 in round one, the Guangzhou driver took an improved 14th place in the second encounter but then had the misfortune of contact early on in round three which resulted in retirement to the pits at the end of lap two.

“It wasn’t my weekend really, in qualifying we had the problem so I started from behind for the first race but it was OK in the end and quite a good race”, said Sirui, “In race two I should have been P10 or something like that but I made a couple of mistakes. I had a good start to the third race, I was up to like P10, but then on the second lap I got hit on the rear wheel – that was it.”

SWR rookies make major impression as F4 gets off to superb start
Having qualified an excellent fifth fastest for round one on Saturday, Barlow made a good initial launch from the third row of the grid but was shuffled back to the tail of the top 10 through Copse and into Maggotts. Battling back up to seventh place on lap two, he ran just ahead of team-mate Graham – up from ninth on the grid after a good, clean first couple of laps for the Durham racer.

At mid-distance, Graham had been pushed back to ninth and then had to defend as well as trying to attack as part of an ultra-tight four car scrap. Although unlucky to slip back to 10th, Graham regained ninth on the final tour while Barlow also moved up a place on the last lap to take sixth. Sirui made good progress early on, motoring into the top 15 by lap three where he stayed to the flag.

Round two was the clear highlight for Barlow and it all started superbly as the SWR racer sliced his way through into the lead at the exit of Copse from third on the grid. Despite immense pressure from experienced single-seater racer Seb Morris, Barlow held the lead impressively but on lap three at Village he slipped to second.

Undeterred, Barlow applied pressure of his own during the second half of the race and out of the Maggotts and Becketts sequence of corners on the penultimate lap he managed to get alongside on the exit to move through into the lead once again which he brilliantly held to the chequered flag.

Graham, starting ninth, also made a great getaway and took seventh on lap one before slipping to eighth. Regaining seventh on lap four, he zeroed in on Charlie Robertson ahead and sensationally posted the fastest lap of the race in the process before grabbing sixth on the penultimate tour.

Team-mate Sirui again put together an impressive first lap and climbed from 15th into 12th before slipping back to 14th place. Moving into 13th on lap six, ahead of Russ Gunn, Sirui had to give best to his rival a couple of laps later and so finished in a, nonetheless highly creditable, 14th position.

By virtue of his round two fastest lap, Graham started the final race from pole but slipped to third on the opening lap. Barlow, who started in fourth, pressured his fellow SWR runner into lap two and the pair traded places with some very close, yet very fair, racing. Graham was back ahead by the start of lap three and as the race entered its second half he made the podium place secure.

In the tight battle for the top six, Barlow found himself elbowed to the tail of the lead group and although re-taking fifth from Matt Bell on lap eight the experienced single-seater competitor moved back ahead just over a lap from the finish. Sirui was an outstanding 11th at the end of lap one, up from 15th on the grid and on course for a potential top 10, but the lap two contact ruled him out.

Barlow, Graham and Sirui will be back on track for the second event of the BRDC Formula 4 season, rounds four, five and six, on 18th/19th May at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent, where the category will run as support to the DTM ‘German touring cars’.

2013 Provisional BRDC Formula 4 Championship Driver Standings (after Rd3):
4th Jack Barlow, 60pts; 6th Matty Graham, 47pts; Zou Sirui – Does Not Score

Jack Barlow - PembreyPembrey in South Wales was the latest stop on BRDC Formula 4 Championship team SWR’s comprehensive pre-season testing schedule on Thursday, 4th April, with confirmed 2013 signing Matty Graham joined by aspiring F4 racer Jack Barlow.

Although cold, and extremely windy, the day remained dry and enabled the Chipping Norton squad to make significant progress with both young karting graduates. Graham, the 2011 CIK-FIA Under 18 World Karting Champion, continued his preparations for the opening event of the season strongly and completed 114 laps in total.

“It was a good day”, reflected the Edmundbyers-based 16-year-old, “We’ve had tests in the wet and dry now and that experience has been really good, I’ve learnt from that and we also worked on learning some different lines and things.

“I’m feeling a lot more confident with the car now, and also more confident with other cars around me on track which is very important. Now we’re looking forward to continuing the pre-season next week at Snetterton where the aim is to keep improving.”

Hastings 17-year-old Barlow, who is eyeing graduation into car racing this year off the back of a glittering British and European karting career, thoroughly enjoyed his maiden run in one of SWR’s MSV F4-013 single-seaters. He quickly got down to competitive lap times and concluded the day with 108 laps under his belt.

Like Graham, Barlow has a huge karting pedigree and won no less than three prestigious UK titles in 2011 – the Super 1 Junior Rotax Championship, Kartmasters Grand Prix and Rotax Cup. Debuting in 2007, he won the Formula Kart Stars Rotax Mini Max title two years later and during his final season of karting last year, he was third overall in the Super 1 British KF2 Karting Championship.

“Considering the last time I was in a car testing was at the end of last year, and that was in a BARC Renault at Brands Indy, I think the test went really well”, said Barlow, “It was all new to me, a new car, but we picked up steadily during the day and everything came really naturally.

“F4 is definitely what we’re hoping to do this year, it’s what we’re focused on. I have an important sponsor coming to Snetterton next week for the test there so hopefully that will go well and we’ll know at that point if we’ll have the budget we need.”

SWR will be back on track at Snetterton in Norfolk next week where the team will run two of its three F4 cars for Graham and Barlow on Tuesday, 9th April, and Wednesday, 10th April.

Rounds one, two and three of the inaugural BRDC Formula 4 Championship season will take place on 27th/28th April at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire.

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.

Lee NapolitanoLydd-based Wavertree Motorsport is celebrating a victorious conclusion to the British Super 1 championship, after its drivers won the Mini and Junior Max finals at PFi last Sunday (20 September).

Jack Barlow led the team’s assault in the Mini Max class and showed that he is a huge talent for the future by fighting his way from 20th on the grid, to win the pre-final. He then went on to dominate the main final, taking the chequered flag more than five seconds ahead of his nearest challenger.

Team boss, Matt Napolitano said, “Jack was brilliant. He didn’t make a mistake all weekend”.

Jack’s Mini Max team-mate Aidan Hills also enjoyed a strong conclusion to the season, scoring his first top ten finish in his maiden Super 1 campaign, with a fine 8th place.

Lee Napolitano was also in sparkling form, in what was one of his last races in Junior Max. Fastest in timed qualifying, the 2008 Junior Max GP winner won both his heats before completing a perfect weekend for himself and his family’s team, by leading home the field in the two finals.

“Lee was just fantastic,” beamed Matt, who is also his uncle. “He won every time he went out on track. It was a superb way to round off the season, especially after such an awful start. The Lee that won Kart Masters last year, is back!”

Fellow Junior, Ashlee Whiteman delighted his team boss by achieving his target of a top 15 position in the points table – finishing 13th overall. “Ash got a seeded number, which is what we all wanted at the beginning of the year,” Matt said. He also expressed his pleasure at seeing Super 1 debutant Jack fighting for the championship.

“I am absolutely over the moon. We weren’t expecting to be challenging [for the championship] in Jack’s first year. Going into that last round was incredible. The pressure we were under was immense. But it says a lot about him and the equipment under him [Alonso chassis and WMS-prepared engines], that he has been a consistent front-runner all season”.

The team is now turning its attention to clinching the Formula Kart Stars title with Jack.

“We really want to win it. It’ll be a big shame if we don’t because we’ve pretty much been leading it from the start. But we’ll go to Whilton Mill [on 3/4 October] with a ‘what will be, will be’ attitude. What we have achieved so far this year has been amazing, all the boys have shone, so I’ll be saying ‘just go out there and do your best’.”

Matt knows that Jack will be feeling the heat, but has several methods to relieve anxiety. “We’re a family-run team and my belief is, if the kids aren’t having fun – what’s the point? We enjoy a lot of banter in the awning, have a laugh and use silly hand-signals in testing to try and take the driver’s mind off the pressure. It’s a much nicer way to go racing.”

For drivers looking to run with a multiple championship-winning team, in a friendly and positive environment, Wavertree Motorsport has opportunities available right now. Call Matt Napolitano for a friendly chat on 01797 321075/07876 541032.

Wavertree Motorsport is also an authorised Rotax supplier and sealing agent. Renowned for preparing some of the country’s quickest engines at competitive prices, Paul Napolitano senior is the man to talk to, if you want your Max race-tuned or simply have a general enquiry regarding your motor. Call him on 01797 321075/07879 626655

For more information about Wavertree Motorsport, click on www.wavertreemotorsport.co.uk

Jack BarlowJack Barlow’s roller coaster season delivered another white-knuckle ride at the concluding round of the British Super 1 championship, held at the PFi circuit in Lincolnshire last weekend (19/20 September).

In timed qualifying Jack was the third fastest driver [of 30], just seven 1/100ths of a second off the pole position-winning time. From this early, positive start he delighted his team with a fine win in the first of the weekend’s two heats.

Disaster struck in the following race, when after finishing in 7th place, post-race checks adjudged that a loose jet did not meet the regulations. After much debate as to whether it gave a performance advantage – it didn’t – the stewards decided to exclude Jack from the race result – putting him down in 20th place for Sunday’s crucial, first final.

With his chances of winning the championship now looking over, Jack’s father, Paul urged Jack to “just go out there and have some fun” in the pre-final. Jack responded, “I was a bit nervous, but not too bothered. I listened to what dad said and just went out and did it.”

From the start, he was imperious going forward. At the end of the opening lap, Barlow was up to 11th place. A handful of laps later, he was up to 5th but some way off the lead quartet. “The front four had gone. I couldn’t see them but I got my head down and started to catch them,” he said.

Jack eventually bridged the gap to the 4th-placed kart, and over the proceeding laps caught and passed the karts ahead of him until he was in the lead. From there he pulled away to take a convincing win.

If his pre-final win had been remarkable, Jack’s victory in the main race was almost unremarkable. It was a textbook lights-to-flag triumph. Although pressed hard in the opening stages, Jack’s consistency, allied with his pursuers fighting each other for track position, allowed him to eke out an increasing margin. As the chequered flag signalled the end of the race, Barlow crossed the line nearly six seconds ahead of the next driver. Once back in the paddock, he revealed that in the first half of the race, there were some anxious moments.

“My kart was set-up to ‘come on’ [work at its optimum level] later, rather than soon after the start but it took for ages. I was being caught by the pack and I could see Matt getting really frustrated, telling me to go faster and I was thinking, ‘I can’t push any harder’.”

He added, “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to win overall but I finished 2nd and I’m over the moon at that. At the beginning of the season none of us expected that I’d be fighting for the British championship”. So much so, that Jack bet his father and team boss that if he finished in the top three, they would have to give up smoking. “Dad’s struggling already,” Jack grinned.

Jack’s next big race is the final round of the Formula Kart Stars championship at Whilton Mill [3/4 October]. He is currently leading the points but expects a tough fight from his fellow title protagonists.

“It’s going to be difficult but then, it has been all season. We’ve just got to make sure that we’re really well prepared and then just see what happens.”

To keep up to speed with Jack’s career, visit www.jackbarlow.co.uk.

Photo by Graham Smith/TSR Productions