After several months of injury time, Route77Energy MVR-D Honda welcomed back team rider Jason Dougan to the Red Bull Pro Nationals championship at Canada Heights in Kent this past weekend. Rejoining colleague Gert Krestinov in the hunt for points, Dougan hoped to ease back into the game, but at the end of the day proved that he was more than prepared for his comeback.
The Red Bull Pro Nationals introduced a two-stage practice system for 2012, and in the free practice session first thing on Sunday morning saw both riders put in nearly identical times. In the qualifying session however, Krestinov put in the second-fastest time of the MX1 class, with Dougan some positions down in eighth.
After a heavy downpour passed through the area, the first Pro class race went to the line. Here Dougan was in his element, getting off the line and through the tight first corner in second. Holding his position throughout the race, Dougan built up an extensive lead over his nearest rival whilst attempting to keep his own distance to the leader to a minimum. In the second race, Dougan found himself restarting in last after going down on the start. A rapid move up the pack followed with Dougan making short work of several rivals a lap and returning to the top ten by half time. The pack spread out, progress was more modest in the second half of the race, with Dougan moving into seventh place and holding fast to the end of the race.
Krestinov’s races were virtually the opposite. In the first race, he struggled to get off the start, and with some equipment trouble, was not able to make as much progress as he would have liked. Several small crashes on the slippery clay surface cost him time and positions, but he was nonetheless able to make late gains to end the first race in seventh. The second race was near perfect. Off the start in third, Krestinov maintained his position from start to finish, ending the second race virtually where he started.
With the points totted up at the end of the day, Dougan ascended the podium in third overall with Krestinov in sixth, a mere two points adrift.
Team principal Mark Chamberlain was pleased with the result at the end of the day, commenting: “We’re very pleased with today’s results. Jason’s just come back from injury and to return with a podium is a great start. I’m very pleased to see him back up there. Gert also did well riding the way he did whilst suffering from the flu, and with only two points between him and Jason, it’s been a good race weekend.”
Jason Dougan (#17): Overall I’m happy with how I was riding and the result at the end of the day. Coming into today I wasn’t expecting anything really, I just came here to get two rides under my belt and my confidence to where it should be. So, I was a bit unlucky going down on the start in the second race, but I managed to get third overall, so I’m happy.
Gert Krestinov (#37): Coming into the weekend the prognosis was not so good because I fell ill on Wednesday. I came here to see what I could do, and I could make one fast lap in qualifying and was second. In the first race it was just so slippery and I had some trouble with my front brake, so I just couldn’t concentrate and had a bad race in seventh. In the second race my goal was to get a good start, and I did it, so I could hang on for third place which was pretty good. I gave everything and I’m really really tired, so I’m going to take the week off and try to recover and be really good at Mill next week.