INTERVIEW: EUROPE CALLS JACK DOOHAN
By PAUL GOVER, News Limited
JACK DOOHAN Doohan is leading a European vacation with a difference in 2017.
The 14-year-old kart star has moved his family to France as he takes the first big step towards Formula 1.
Doohan will be based just outside Monaco and will have a personal tutor to continue his education while he attacks a year that amounts to a fully-professional race drive, with more than 100 days of track time.
He knows jealous rivals will say he is over-indulged by his father, a five-time MotoGP world champion who has built a successful business empire based on aviation and property investment, but he’s a hard-headed youngster who is ready for any attack.
“I’m not Mick Doohan’s kid with a dad who gets him there. I want to do well and make a name for myself. I want to try and be world champion,” Doohan tells Auto Action.
“I’ve been karting for six years in May and I’ve won three Australian championships. I’m serious. I’m really pumped for it.”
Doohan has made a number of overseas karting forays, most recently to the Middle East for the world title meeting at the back end of 2016 where he qualified well but had predictable troubles through the heats as he adapted to the take-no-prisoners tactics of its rivals.
Now he has joined Ricky Flynn Motorsport, a UK based team that’s won three junior world championships in recent years, for his move into the OKJ class driving a Fernando Alonso kart. Jos Verstappen, father of F1 wonder boy Max, was one of the people who recommended RFK.
Doohan’s early success has also earned him a spot as a Red Bull athlete, although the company’s junior development program only kicks in at Formula 4 level and does not extend down to karts.
The Doohan family – Jack and Mick, mother Selina and sister Alexis who has just finished high school – flew last week to Europe and he will be testing before the end of January at the South Garda circuit in Italy. He lands with plenty of Australian experience, including a win rate that was better than 50 percent last year.
“My first race is the weekend of January 26, at Adria near Venice,” he says.
“I’ll have a total of 105 days in the kart this year.”
Doohan’s commitment to karts is a sharp contrast to his father’s success on motorcycles, but he says his career choice was pretty easy.
“I broke my leg riding a Peewee 50 and that scared me a bit. I rode BMX when I was five, until about seven. Then one of my friends (Zane Goddard, who is racing Formula 4 in Europe in 2017) was driving a go-kart at Coomera on the Gold Coast. That’s why I am where I am now.”
He admits it can be tough at time being the son of a famous father, but it’s not a major drama.
“For me he’s just my regular dad and as normal as anyone else. Other people think otherwise, but it’s not like that,” he says.
“It puts pressure on, but you’ve got to not think about it. If you think too much you crack.”
For his father, the European adventure is the next logical step in helping his son get established in his career.
“I’m trying to let Jack make the calls. From here he has to make the decision and take it to the next level,” Mick says.
“The speed is there. It’s now the fine-tuning and the racecraft. He’s doing it for himself and he’s stepped up to the plate. He’s progressed pretty quickly.”
Date posted: June 5, 2017