Team Suzuki Press Office – June 29.
The Suzuki World MXGP team make their way to Portugal this weekend, returning to the Agueda track south of Porto. After last weekend’s scorching temperatures in Italy, where Arminas Jasikonis, Jeremy Seewer and Bas Vaessen performed so well, the forecast seems to be more of the same and this weekend they’ll be joined by the returning Kevin Strijbos, who is finally back at the MXGPs after a seven-round absence.
“I will be making my return in Portugal”, said Strijbos. “I’ve ridden maybe six or seven times on my bike now since the doctor gave me the all clear so my elbow is still a little bit stiff but it should be good for riding. I’m just going to go to Portugal without any expectations, I want to go there and take it as a practice event, get myself used to riding MXGPs again. Then we have three weeks before the Czech Republic so that’s where I want to be at 100%, in Loket and then Lommel for the following round.”
With Strijbos not racing, Jasikonis has been the sole Suzuki World MXGP representative, but he has exceeded all expectations on board his Factory RM-Z450WS and now heads to Agueda, hoping to continue his good form: “I’ve ridden in Portugal before, but I’ve heard that 50% is a brand-new track so it’s going to be different. It also looks like it will also be hot like it was in Ottobiano, so it will be another tough weekend for me, but I will keep on learning and trying to improve. This is still my first full season so I try not to put too much pressure on myself and I think everyone can see that I’m getting better and better, so that is a good feeling. On the sand, I can really fight with those guys and I’m believing I can do it more and more. It is always tough but I think it will be another good race that I will try and enjoy.”
In the MX2 class, Seewer will be trying to make it two wins in a row, on a track that should suit his style. “I’ve raced in Portugal once a couple of years ago and I really liked it actually. It has some hills, some nice dirt, not sandy but not hard-pack either. Just a real nice mix and one that I think could be a perfect track for me. I’ve heard that they have changed it about but we will see how it is, but I liked it last time. Hopefully it will be a little bit cooler than in Italy, but I’m a really fit guy and I think I showed at the last round that I can still perform well on my RM-Z250 if it is hot again in Portugal.”
Joining him on the MX2 starting gate will be Dutch rider Vaessen who has got better and better since returning from his collarbone injury. Like a lot of this year’s tracks, Agueda will be a brand-new experience for him but that certainly hasn’t slowed down the youngster so far in 2017. “I’ve only ever seen videos of Portugal from former GPs held there but it seems like a nice track. It’s always hard to judge from TV as it’s totally different from when you have to ride a track, but I’m quite excited for it. It will be my first time and coming off my career-best performance in Ottobiano, I wish to continue to improve my results as much as I can every round.”
After missing Ottobiano, Hunter Lawrence hoped he would be making a return to action in Portugal. However, after he got checked out at the doctors (today, Thursday), his scan results have shown that along with two compressed vertebrae, he has a small fracture on the side. It’s disappointing news for the Australian rider who has shown real speed this year, but he will now focus fully on his recovery and come back when he is fully fit and healthy. “It’s a massive shame, but with this type of injury, I’m just glad that I can ride in the future. I will attend Portugal and cheer on the rest of my Suzuki World teammates and hope to be back out on the track as soon as I can.”
Zach Pichon will also be missing from the team as his shoulder injury is still too much of a problem for him to consider lining-up to race. He has been on his bike since Russia, but it is too sore to be trying to put in two full motos at race pace. His next round of the EMX250 championship will be in Switzerland in August.
So, with two MXGP riders and two MX2 riders, the Suzuki World MXGP team will head to Portugal ready to continue their assault on their respective world championships. All four riders are looking forward to the challenge of another hot weekend, at a venue that seems to be a real favourite amongst both fans and riders.