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Jack BarlowPrior to the start of the Grand Final of the annual Kart Masters event, Jack Barlow was so nervous he could barely stand. “I had to sit down,” he admitted with a laugh after lifting the biggest title of his career so far at the PFi circuit in Lincolnshire last Sunday (2 August).

His success came after a challenging weekend that almost completely dispelled any last hopes for the much-hyped ‘barbecue summer’.

Surviving crashes and torrential downpours, Jack emerged from the qualifying heats on Saturday with sufficient points to secure a front-row start for the first of Sunday’s two finals. After seizing the advantage during the opening two laps, he briefly lost the lead – but quickly re-asserted himself and cruised to a comfortable victory to earn himself pole position for the Grand Final.

Moments ahead of the start of the Grand Final, Jack sat down quietly on the sidelines to gather his thoughts and focus.

“I concentrated on what it would feel like to lift the winner’s trophy and that helped,” he said.

Jack got a perfect getaway and was clear of the bumping and barging behind him in the opening lap’s first few corners. However, he was unable to create an early breakaway and was soon caught. He defended his lead and waited for his tyres to come up to their optimum working temperature. When they did – after six laps – he pulled away.

With only daylight ahead of him, Jack simply had to keep his concentration and a string of consistent lap times saw him move comfortably clear. But all his good work was undone in an instant when he made a mistake, pushing too hard into a corner, he ran wide onto the grass. He lost over a second of his lead, causing nervous palpitations amongst his team and family. The incident served to refocus his mind and, able to retain the lead he quickly re-extended his advantage and held it to the chequered flag.

After the press conference and podium celebrations, Jack said “I’m over the moon [to have won], especially against such a quality field. On the last lap I had to keep saying to myself, ‘take it easy, just bring it home’.”

There were also emotional scenes in the paddock, as Jack explains “My team manager, Matt Napolitano [of Lydd-based Wavertree Motorsport] kept hugging me, my dad was speechless and Mum was in tears”.

Now with his first major title under his belt, Jack hopes to be able to go on and fight for the British Super 1 and Formula Kart Stars Championship crowns but is trying to keep his feet on the ground. “I’ve definitely got the confidence now but we’ll just have to see.”

Keep up to speed with Jack and his career by clicking on www.jackbarlow.co.uk

Photo by Chris Walker /Kartpix

Jack BarlowJack Barlow’s race to win the Formula Kart Stars Mini Max championship took another step forward with his second win in the Bernie Ecclestone and Lewis Hamilton-backed series.

The 14-year old Wavertree Motorsport driver had arrived at PFi (18/19 July) as the current points leader and if that was not enough to put pressure on his shoulders, the fact that he had forsaken a club race at the Lincolnshire circuit in order to honour a PR engagement at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (4/5 July), certainly did. His absence meant that he had had no time to prepare for the venue’s notoriously changeable weather conditions with his new Alonso kart.

In Saturday’s warm, dry conditions he recorded the third-fastest time during qualifying which gave him the vital inside line for PFi’s notorious first hairpin.

A strong start saw Jack seize the initiative to lead the field across the start/finish line. Unable to break away, he ceded the advantage on the third lap and dropped to third. A handful of laps later, he was back into second and harrying for the lead.

A terrific scrap was developing between the lead four, and again Jack hit the front. Sadly, it lasted just one tour but with two laps remaining Barlow wriggled his way through and made sure that, this time he wasn’t going to be overtaken.

His plan worked and Jack took the chequered flag barely half a second ahead of the second-placed driver.

“That was hard work!” he said. “The action was none stop and you couldn’t relax for a second. We all pushed each other so hard – it was one of those races that any one of the three of us could’ve won”.

With little time to savour his victory and the consolidation of his points lead, Jack was quickly back in action for Final Two. And then it rained.

He led the opening lap, but began to realise that his kart was not working as well as that of the drivers around him. Bit by bit, he lost ground and places to eventually find himself in a frustrated sixth place.

“Because I’d been at Goodwood, I couldn’t do the club race at PFi on the same weekend and we knew that if it rained, we’d be losing the opportunity to get vital set-up data if it was wet on Sunday (19 July). As soon as it started raining, I thought ‘oh great, here we go’. But you can’t give up and I just did my best. Thankfully I’ve only dropped twelve points and sixth place, on top of my win, was good enough to keep the championship lead.”

There are two rounds remaining, with the series moving to Genk in Belgium for the next one (13/16 August).

“Genk’s a superb circuit. It’s huge and one of the best in Europe. Because it’s so far away, it will be a double-header (consisting of two days racing rather than one) and I will need to finish well on both days. It’s going to be tense, close and exciting!”

Keep up to speed with Jack and his career by clicking on www.jackbarlow.co.uk.

Photo by Chris Walker / Kartpix

Jack BarlowThe popular website www.chavtowns.co.uk – the self-styled, ‘scourge of estate agents and local councillors’ – is not kind to Larkhall, offering a grim description of life there – especially at weekends.

Whilst the website paints a dark, ‘Broken Britain’-esque picture of the small Lanarkshire town, it fails to mention its famous kart circuit, which Mini Max star Jack Barlow loves.

He and his Wavertree Motorsport team had made the long, nine-hour journey up to Scotland for the fourth round of the British Super 1 Championships (11/12 July), and after a difficult previous race, needed a strong result if he was to maintain his title challenge.

“At Buckmore Park (Kent) in June, I had a bit of a tough time. It was warm all weekend and the kart I had at the time was ballistic in cold, damp conditions but we couldn’t get it to work when it was hot and dry. We bought a new Alonso kart from Dan Holland Racing and straight away I was back on the pace. As we drove up to Scotland we were preying that it would be sunny – and surprisingly enough, it was!”

His change of chassis was vindicated when he posted the second-fastest time overall in Timed Qualifying but after the two heats, he candidly admitted to not having his “race head on” and could only finish fifth on both occasions.

These results were still good enough to give him a third row start for Sunday’s first, points-scoring final.

After surviving a second lap scare and dropping places, Jack began to pick his way through the traffic and eventually got up to third. Taking another driver with him, he caught the leader but bided his time before, with just one minute to go, making his move. “I went to pass (the leader) going into the right-hander at the end of the main straight. I managed to do it but the driver behind tried to follow me, got it wrong and only succeeded in backing up the chasing pack behind him.”

This handed the advantage to Jack and he comfortably secured the victory, along with a haul of vital championship points plus pole-position for the main final.

The young Sussex star got a superb start and quickly opened a gap. He led for the first twelve laps, but bit by bit was reeled in by a small gaggle of karts. Two drivers were able to pass him, but as they fought each other, Jack re-passed them. With just two laps remaining, he again found himself demoted to second but prepared to make his decisive move.

As he did an impetuous manoeuvre for the lead by the driver behind him saw the pair touch and Jack momentarily ran off the circuit. He recovered to secure fourth, but knew he’d been denied another podium.

“I was annoyed because it’s happened before with the same person. Looking at the positives though, I came away with good points and I’m up to third overall now.”

With just two races remaining, he added “It’s not going to be easy (to win overall). My closest rivals will need to have bad rounds, which I don’t really see happening. They’ve been very consistent. I’ve just got to remain focused and go for top three finishes from here on in”.

Jack’s returns to action this weekend, when he competes in the 5th round of the Formula Kart Stars Championship, at the superb PFi circuit near Grantham in Lincolnshire (18/19 July).

Keep up to speed with Jack and his career by clicking on www.jackbarlow.co.uk.

Photo by Chris Walker / Kartpix.