Thursday, January 6 2022

When you are in motorsport and your last name is Doohan, victory is expected.

That’s why Jack Doohan found himself bottoming out in 2020, a season that saw him finish the F3 championship without a single point.

It even saw him questioning whether or not that was the problem.

“Last year was really tough and I wasn’t really in a good position on the team,” Doohan told Wide World of Sports.

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“Things just didn’t gel, and it was a very compact season, nine innings in eleven weeks, which made it difficult to assess the issues and make big changes. things got ugly, it was so hard to go back. back on track. “

Doohan drove for the HWA Racelab team, alongside another famous name, Enzo Fittipaldi, grandson of two-time world champion Emerson, as well as Jake Hughes.

Jack Doohan in action in Belgium. (Getty)

The fact that Hughes won a race amassing 111.5 points made it even more difficult for the Australian. Was it possible that he just didn’t have the talent to make it to the top?

“There were times in 2020 where, of course, I thought maybe I wasn’t fast enough. I was confused enough to be honest,” he frankly admitted.

His perspective changed very quickly in October, however, when he joined the Trident team for the post-season testing in Spain. He dominated qualifying at the Jerez circuit and put in another impressive performance for Barcelona in pre-season testing earlier this year.

“Once I jumped into the Trident car, the first lap I did in Barcelona in testing this year, which has always been one of my weakest circuits, I was immediately in the pace, ”Doohan said.

Jack Doohan finished second in the F3 Championship in 2021. (Getty)

“I was still wasting time in the last section, which is quite slow, and we even went for another track ride that evening, then on the second day an issue that I had been struggling with for a few years was sorted out. .

“Almost as soon as I got in the Trident car, my confidence returned.”

The question of where he would lead for 2021 was settled relatively early, a move that Doohan says paid off once the season began.

Zero points in 2020 turned into 179 points in 2021, including wins in France, Belgium (twice) and Russia, en route to second place in the F3 championship behind Prema driver Dennis Hauger.

Doohan also led Trident to the Tag Team Championship, ending Prema’s grip on the title.

Jack Doohan celebrates a victory in France. (Getty)

“I was able to partner with Trident early enough for 2021, which allowed us to work on the post-season tests, which gave us a very good head start to get things going for 2021” , he explained.

“We were in the spotlight, whereas if there had been a delay in reaching a deal for 2021, it would only delay the start-up process.

“It was great to get second place, obviously as a second year driver I had the experience, but the team helped me a lot to develop myself, especially in my weak points, like the low speed corners, where I struggled in 2020. “

F3 and F2 adopted a different format in 2021, with three races each weekend instead of the previous two, and an expanded inverted grid format.

This change did not help the 18-year-old.

Jack Doohan with his father, Mick, five-time motorcycle world champion. (Getty)

“It was difficult this year because we had some pretty weird grids with the top 12 reversed,” Doohan said.

“It was so important to stay out of trouble. Usually it’s hard to overtake, so I worked to stay safe, even if that meant losing a position instead of gaining one. It wasn’t worth it. risk for a few points, but in the end it probably cost me the championship because I lost all my points in the reverse grid races.

“It’s about learning, but going from pole on Friday night after qualifying to 12th on the grid on Saturday was tough. The guy who qualifies 12th is usually a little late, and now all of a sudden , he’s on pole, and he’s fighting for his life.

“It’s pretty tricky, but it was something we knew before the season, and it was the same for everyone, so you’re handling it the best you can.”

Doohan was understandably suspicious of his plans for 2022, with nothing set in stone so far. But if we are to believe the whispers, an F2 campaign with the Virtuosi group in the lead is in preparation.

Jack Doohan driving Trident in Barcelona. (Getty)

Equally important is the move from the Red Bull Junior Team to the Alpine Academy, the same program that has propelled fellow Australian Oscar Piastri into F1 as an Alpine reserve driver for next season.

“Yeah, that looks like F2,” Doohan confirmed.

“Right now I’m looking elsewhere (rather than staying with Trident), but nothing is confirmed yet, there are still some options, but I hope to be in a title contention car.

“For the moment, I am a Red Bull driver and I am under contract until the end of the year. We will see what the future holds for me, I am very happy with where I am and with my partnership. with Red Bull.

“But we’ll see what happens in the future and what they want to do.”

Doohan’s success in F3 capped a solid period for Australia in the junior categories of motorsport. Piastri won the same championship last year and appears to be heading for the F2 title this year, while Remy Gardner won the Moto2 championship earlier this month.

Australian Moto2 rider Remy Gardner celebrates after winning the championship (AP)

“Hope we can all reach the top at the same time, I’m so happy for Remy,” Doohan said.

“We went for a bite to eat with him a few weeks ago, the week before Portimao. He’s a great guy, I’m so happy to see him win the championship. Moto3 and Moto2 are so tough, with Oscar in F2 and Remy is great to see.

“Oscar has been a bit miserable, he deserves a seat in F1, he’s pretty quick, I’m sure he will have his chance, even if that doesn’t happen until 2023.

“It’s a year later than he should be, but he will have his chance.

“I just hope I can follow in his footsteps.”

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