Suzuki World riders littered the top 10 on the Saturday at the 2017 MXGP of Latvia, held at the sandy track in Kegums: Arminas Jasikonis led the way on his RM-Z450WS with a sixth-place finish in the highly-contested MXGP class, while Jeremy Seewer was the best Suzuki World MX2 qualifier in eighth place.
Bas Vaessen returned from his broken collarbone to place an impressive 11th on his first MX2 outing since Argentina, while Hunter Lawrence had to overcome some unfortunate incidents for his 21st place. In the first EMX250 moto, Zach Pichon made a big stride forward, gaining his first top-10 of the season with a seventh place, giving him lots of confidence for race two tomorrow.
For Jasikonis, it was another impressive race after his strong showing at Valkenswaard, made even sweeter by racing in front of a decent number of Lithuanian fans who crossed the border for this race. He had this to say about his day: “The Qualification race was good. I had a good start although I then slipped a little in the first turn, which made it so I was following those top guys. I felt my RM-Z450WS was faster than them but I couldn’t make a pass stick, I passed Jeremy van Horebeek but he passed me right back. I tried again but made a mistake which allowed Antonio Cairoli to get by, so I then decided to take it easy and ended-up finishing sixth as Cairoli crashed with two turns left. I can’t really be disappointed with sixth, it’s my second really good qualification race now and I just want to do the same tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Things didn’t quite go as smoothly for Seewer who led briefly before dropping down after some unusual errors: “I had an ok start but rode smart in the first corner, keeping to the inside which allowed me to come-out third. I then passed Pauls Jonass quickly and settled in behind Jorge Prado. We were going really quickly in the beginning, making a big gap to third but then I had some problems with my braking so I couldn’t push as much as I wanted to. I did eventually get into the lead but then made a mistake right afterwards, which is obviously very disappointing and shouldn’t happen. I should be able to handle it much better. Then I had a nasty crash on the step-down and was lucky to be able to finish in eighth position. It should still be ok for tomorrow; I like the track and I feel fast here and I believe that if I’m there at the start, I can battle for the win.”
A couple of spots back was Vaessen who raced a German ADAC round last weekend, but hasn’t been in an MX2 race for almost six weeks so an 11th really was a positive step forward for the Dutch youngster. “The qualification race was really good, better than expected after my timed practice which wasn’t so great. I had a really good start on my RM-Z250 and made some passes on the first lap, I was pushing really hard to get into the top 10. I was 11th and I was thinking about making the pass for 10th but made a couple of mistakes so decided to back-it-down and settle where I was. My shoulder felt really good; no more fatigue on the left shoulder than the right so I was really satisfied with that and I hope I can do more of the same tomorrow.”
Unfortunately, Lawrence couldn’t get such a good start and in this deep MX2 class, it is really hard to come through the pack. “I didn’t get a great jump out the gate and then in the first turn someone crashed right in front on me so that put me right down the field. I tried to get to work, find some lines and make some passes on this track and I felt like I was making good progress during the race. I was moving forward and completing some clean passes but then my ex-teammate from last year took me out so I dropped back down again. Now I must regroup and get ready for tomorrow. I feel like I’m doing everything I can but we’ll keep working to always do better.”
In the EMX250 class Pichon made up for his 20th position in qualifying to fly out of the gate and post his best result of the season so far. “Qualifying didn’t go so well, I need to wake-up a bit more in the morning to put in a good time, so I ended up 20th gate pick. However, I got a great start on my RM-Z250 and came out of the first turn in third place. I dropped a couple of places but I was riding my own race, riding how I like to ride and was happy to come home in seventh place. If I get another good start tomorrow I think it’s possible to do the same again, perhaps even better; then it’ll be a good weekend.”
Overall, it was a positive day today, with the strong possibility of even better results in the main motos tomorrow. All the riders seem to have got on well with the track and if lines continue to develop, there should be plenty of opportunities for the Suzuki World team to find their way to the front.