Former World champ Mick Doohan’s thumbs up for MRF Challenge
Chennai, February 9: The ongoing MRF Challenge provides an ideal platform for young racing aspirants to showcase their talent and also secure exposure ahead of the new international season, and hence, former five-times World 500cc champion Mick Doohan from Australia said he decided to enter his 16-year old son, Jack, in one of Asia’s premier winter series.
Speaking to the Media on the sidelines of the third and final round of the MRF Challenge at the MMRT here today and soon after his son finished third in Race-1, 53-year Doohan, said: “The primary reason (for Jack Doohan to enter MRF Challenge) is that my son (Jack) turned 16 only this January and so this is his first real series. I was in Dubai a few years ago and a number of the Australians I knew were driving in MRF Challenge. I was also in Bahrain. So, I had a feel for the series. We had heard a lot of good things about it. It was pretty easy for us to get here, and get some experience.
“For a winter series, this is a great platform. This offers us some real race miles before the start of the European season. The cars are competitive, the platform is basically identical. This is what attracts a lot of the drivers. There is a wide variety of drivers here. It is like a starting school. It is great to be here in Chennai and experience the racing. This (MMRT) is a great circuit. I actually like circuits with a little bit of character. It adds attraction to the series.”
Mr Arun Mammen, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, MRF Ltd, who presided over the Media interaction, said: “MRF has been associated with motorsports for the last 30 years. Every year, it has been a wonderful journey. Here at the MRF Challenge, all the cars are the same, identical cars, same tyres, specs etc. So what differentiates these cars is the caliber of the drivers and the skill tests. And it is a dream learning platform for them to master their skills and gain exposure. That is what we are trying to do with MRF Challenge.
“Apart from motorsports, we are also active in various championships, including gravel and rally championships in UK, Europe and Australia. So, the MRF Challenge is an extension of our endeavor to produce quality racing and rally tyres.”
Doohan, when asked about his son’s choice of four-wheeler racing instead of bikes, said; “He has been riding dirt bikes and we have a go-kart track on our property. Because his friends were driving cars and he hurt himself on a bike when very young, he never really showed interest (in bike racing). On a motorcycle, if you make a mistake you crash. Also, thankfully, in a car, he is not judged against what his father did.”
Doohan also fielded questions on the current state of MotoGP, the evolution of the machinery and the on-track rivalries. “The talent today is there for all of us to see. The top guys are the same as in any period in the sport. There are some young guys coming through. The bikes are a little bit easier to ride with all the electronics and other bits and pieces on the bike which are still prototypes, like the Formula 1 cars. The rivalry (among the riders) is good because it keeps some talk going about the sport.
About the chances of current World champion Marc Marquez, becoming an all-time great rider, Doohan said: “He certainly has the desire. As long as he doesn’t burn out, he has plenty of time left in him (to add to his five titles).”