Team Suzuki Press Office
Arminas Jasikonis took third place overall in what was the Lithuanian rider’s first ever podium, and the first podium in 2017 for the Suzuki World MXGP team. In both motos he battled extremely hard aboard the Factory RM-Z450WS, in what were tough conditions, making the pass he needed with just a couple of laps left to complete an excellent weekend for the whole team.
His third place finishes in both races continued his recent good form and with a couple of weeks off now, he has a chance to recharge his batteries before trying to go even better when the series resumes in the Czech Republic on the July 23rd.
“It’s been a tough weekend, but to get a podium really makes it all worthwhile”, said Jasikonis. “In the first moto I started around fifth but I quickly moved forward, even passing Jeffrey Herlings as I moved into second. I was following Antonio Cairoli but in the middle of the race I knew that once he started to pull away, I had to let him go and concentrate on my efforts. Herlings passed me back at that stage and Max Nagl was staying a consistent gap behind me in fourth so I managed to finish in third place. It certainly wasn’t easy in the middle of the race but I made sure I could push at the end so as not to give any chances for Nagl to pass me, so I ended up third.
“The second moto was really tough. I was again around fifth at the beginning after making a little mistake on an uphill. I ran most of the moto in fifth place, with Tim Gajser and Nagl in front of me and I knew that if Nagl stayed there I wouldn’t get the podium so I really put a big effort into this race. I had to finish in front of him and gave everything I had to make that happen. I made a really nice pass on Gajser and then a couple of laps later I got the pass on Nagl as well, doing what I needed to do for my first ever podium performance. I’d like to give a big thanks to the team, they have done such a great job to help me get here. Thanks to Paul my mechanic, thanks to Stefan and Harry Everts and everyone in the team who works so hard. I just hope this podium pays them back for all their effort. And thanks to my family and my girlfriend who always support me and believe in me, and all the fans who cheer me on. It means so much to get that support and I hope now that this is the start of even better things to come for me in the Suzuki World MXGP team.”
General Manager Stefan Everts was absolutely delighted with the performance, and with a result that further confirms what a good decision it was to pick up the unknown Lithuanian rider as Ben Townley’s replacement 12 months ago. “It was a fantastic weekend, starting off yesterday when AJ won the qualification race”, said Everts. “Today he then confirmed his speed when it counted and got his first podium. I think it’s a really important step for him to finish third and should give him a lot of confidence and the belief of what he can do and how good he can be. Both motos were a tough battle, especially that second race where he had to regroup and put in a second charge to pass both Gajser and Nagl, before finishing it off like a champ. This podium feels more than a victory even, it is such a big achievement for him and the Suzuki World MXGP team. Last year no one even knew who Jasikonis was, and now one year later he’s on the podium. It’s unbelievable what the kid has done; he has put in the hard work, he has believed in the programme that we set up for him and now I think this is only the beginning for him.”
Unfortunately teammate Strijbos wasn’t able to complete either moto today after sustaining a back injury that forced him to withdraw from race one after just a few laps. Everts gave an update on his situation, which was a big shame after an impressive eighth in qualification yesterday. “Kevin did really well in the qualifying race, in what was his first race back after the elbow injury, however today he suffered a back problem which made it just too painful to race. He first complained about it in practice and then in the race he twisted it again in the wave section and had to pull off the track. We’ll have a clearer idea of what exactly he has done in the next few days, after he has had some checks and then we can plan accordingly from those results. I hope it isn’t anything too serious though and he can get back on the bike within the week.”
It was a shame for Strijbos but the weekend belongs to Jasikonis and what will hopefully be the first of many podium performances under the Suzuki World awning. The championship now takes a few weeks off before the next round which is at the old-school Loket track in the Czech Republic on July 23rd.