The 2011 Red Bull Pro Nationals championship came to a close at Culham in Oxfordshire this past weekend, and for Boost Energy KTM this constituted a final push for points and positions.
Qualifying in the dreary morning conditions bode well for the team as team rider Martin Barr put in the second-fastest time behind Gert Krestinov, while team-mate Nathan Parker ended in seventh in the MX1 class.
Culham is known to be a fast track, and the first race saw Barr get off the gate in the lead, going on to lead the pack for another five laps before arm pump set in and rival Brad Anderson was able to force a move that relegated him to second. Teeth gritted, Barr battled against track and rivals Krestinov and Whatley to retain his second place throughout the race to the end.
The second race didn’t start as well as the first as start straight action crowded Barr out and left him in the middle of the pack. With swift manoeuvring Barr found himself in fifth soon after and this set him up to push for a top three position, but that plan came to nothing as his front end washed out and he went down hard. After restarting several places down, Barr then set to battle with team-mate Parker, taking his fourth place three laps later. Although his next goal was to beat Krestinov in third, it was not to be as time ran out. Together with his second place in the first race, Barr found himself on the podium nonetheless, albeit in third place.
For Parker, the first race was a nightmare. In the back of the pack after an atrocious start, Parker had to work hard to make his way forward, picking off rivals one or two at a time in the early stages of the race. As the pack stretched out and arm pump started setting in, he found himself stalking MX2 champion-to-be Elliott Banks-Browne for several laps, unable to make a pass stick. A brief shake-up in the running order then allowed Parker to push forward again, but the best he could achieve was a disappointing eighth at the finish.
Parker’s second race turned out much better with a start in seventh around the first few corners. Settling into a fast pace behind team-mate Barr, Parker then proceeded to pile on the pressure, progressing to fifth place soon after. After passing his fallen team-mate by mid-race, Krestinov was within sight, but a rapidly approaching Barr forced him back a place again. Not giving up, Parker remained stuck on Barr’s rear wheel all the way to the chequered flag in what was a superb race. The end result was a fifth in the race, and a sixth overall on the day. With the championship over, Parker finds himself solidly in fourth, his best result yet.
Team principal Steve Turner declared himself very satisfied with the team’s performance on the day and in the championship overall.
“It’s been a good day!” he declared. “It’s been a good end to the Red Bull season with a podium for Martin which cemented his second place in the championship. He rode pretty well today; his first race was really good, but in the second race he unfortunately dropped it, but fought back to fourth. He’s had a good season, certainly in the Red Bull, so well done to him.
“Nathan on the other hand had a terrible first race; he simply didn’t get out of the gate quick enough. It’s so tough when you don’t get out of the gate because this track’s so fast and they’re just gapping so quickly. I wasn’t too happy with that but to his credit Nathan went out for the second race with a much more determined attitude and got away at the start. He had a good race, battling with Martin all the way through, finished fifth, and cemented his fourth place in the championship. We’ve got to be happy with second and fourth, so happy days!”
Nathan Parker: “Today wasn’t a great day; I struggled this morning in qualifying, the track was really busy and I couldn’t get a fast lap in. In the first race I had a bad start, got arm pump and struggled all the way through to eighth. In the second race I got a good start, didn’t get any arm pump, and had a good battle with Martin and Gert, rode good and ended up fifth. Not a great way to end the season but I’m still in one piece, so that’s good!”
Martin Barr: “The day started off good for me; I made second in qualifying which I was happy about. In race 1 I went to the start, got the holeshot and started to pull away, then just got a lot of arm pump and Anderson got up on me and passed me. I didn’t give up, chased him all the way to the end and with two laps to go a few back markers really mucked me up. It still was a good race and finished second in that one. In race 2 I got a pretty bad start and had to pull my way through. I struggled a bit with the power difference with the big bikes, every time I’d get close to them at the bottom of the hills, they’d just open up and pulled that little bit away again. I was just making hard work for myself, I had a crash, the front-end washed out and I dropped back again, so I had all the work to do again. Eventually got back up to fourth, which gave me third overall on the day and second in the championship. All in all, obviously I’d liked to have won, but there’s always next year. I’d like to thank Steve and Boost Energy KTM, the bike’s been brilliant; I appreciate everything they’ve done this year. Obviously my mechanic Chris, he’s been brilliant and I’d like to thank him, and all my personal sponsors, thank you too.”