Andy McKinstry: Everything is in place for the 2018 MXGP season – unless your name is Benoit Paturel that is!
On Jasikonis, firstly I am glad he has secured his future in the MXGP paddock as he’s very talented and had a great year working with Stefan Everts at Suzuki. However, I have my doubts about how he will fit into the Assomotor Honda team. Valentin Guillod went there and didn’t get on too well and I believe Lupino also wanted to leave!
Hopefully the team can sort the issues out they have been having with the bike and AJ can have a good equipment for the season. If he gets good equipment then I certainly don’t doubt his ability and he will certainly be a top ten GP rider and even better in sand.
Joining Jasikonis is Petar Petrov who I personally think will be more suited to the bigger bike. He is of a heavy build and was too big for the MX2 bike in my opinion. The problem Petrov will have is how stacked the class is! He could ride the wheels of his Honda and finish fifteenth – which would be really good by the way. If Petrov can consistently be around 15th – 20th at the start of the season that would be good for the Bulgarian and then he should improve. Let’s not forget it’s his rookie year and after being out for most of the 2017 season he might be a bit race rusty for the start of the season.
Kevin Strijbos or ‘The Kid’ as he’s known as certainly isn’t getting any younger! The thirty-two year old will be back on KTM machinery as he’s joined the Standing Construct KTM team who make a return to the paddock for the 2018 season. Tim Mathys, the team boss there does a really good job and I think he will get the best out of the Belgian.
Strijbos just needs to stay injury free as he always seems to get injured but if he can do that then he should be a solid top ten rider and the odd podium or top five finish certainly isn’t out of the question.
Jonathan McCready: It’s always a nervous time for the riders getting deals done and especially for the Suzuki riders who got cut at the last minute. But these three riders Jasikonis, Petrov and Strijbos have all ended up with good rides given the circumstances they were in.
Arminas Jasikonis was one of the shining talents of MXGP last year and his partnership with Everts was working well, now Jasikonis has a new bike and no Everts as team manager so it will be interesting to see how he does without the foundation that helped propel him to the sharp end of MXGP. That said, the Honda is a good bike and Jasikonis is so young and still a raw talent, that he should be able to get results in 2018. He has the confidence from last season and as long as he can adapt to the bike an team he should be good this year, it is a certainly a good signing for the Honda camp and the factory team, you would imagine, will be keeping a good eye on his results.
Petar Petrov flattered to deceive in MX2, there is is no doubt he has talent but his size and injuries always appeared to hold him back. This will be a big year for Petrov to prove himself in MXGP but the bigger bike should suit him and allow him to show his full potential- he just has to get out of the with the field so stacked this season.
Kevin Strijbos is back with KTM and on a proven team with Standing Constuct, and both team and rider could be very good this year. Kevin still has a lot of talent and always goes well when he has a point to prove. He won the British championship and won a GP en route to sixth in the world the last time he went orange – and that was a 350. Kevin’s relationship with Stefan Everts was apparently not the best and with Tim Mathys renowned for getting the most out of his riders it could be a very good season for the Belgian if he gets off to a good start and can carry the momentum.