Successful 2020 JM Honda Racing launch event
Now entering its 26th year in motocross GP racing the Jacky Martens managed JM Honda Racing team came together yesterday at the annual team kickoff event. Julien Lieber, Benoit Paturel, Artem Guryev and the team staff were joined by sponsors, media, family and friends at Restaurant De Engel in Zandhoven, Belgium.
After an MX2 runner-up world title in 2019, four MX3 world titles, several EMX and junior world titles the squad enters a new era in 2020. The upcoming MXGP World Championship marks Jacky Martens’ transition to the highest level of world motocross supported by Honda, the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer.
Interviewed by TV commentator Leon Van Gestel team manager and owner Jacky Martens hinted at the huge changes behind the scenes during the last four months. “It has been a very intense period, we’ve been going flat out to build a completely new team with new staff. The challenge was huge, absolutely the same as the commitment a rider needs when he’s fighting for the world title but I’m proud of what we already achieved together!
To go up against the best in the world and develop an MXGP bike in very little time is not easy! However the 2020 Honda CRF450R production platform is amazing and we know the foundation is more than solid. We’re going up against 14 factory riders so the level is incredibly high. Our first mission is to break into the top-10 yet both Benoit Paturel and Julien Lieber have the potential to go for top-5 positions.”
Former MX of Nations champion Benoit Paturel commented: “I had a tough two first years in MXGP so I’m super grateful to get this opportunity with JM Honda Racing. Honestly before this chance came along, I was thinking about quitting as a professional rider. My winter preparation with my trainer Joël Roelants has gone really well and we’re heading in the right direction. To get back to the cutting edge is hard but that’s wat everyone is working for from Jacky (Martens) our team coordinator Björn to the mechanics and sponsors. I can’t wait to start the season in Matterley Basin next week.”
Belgium’s Julien Lieber is about to start his third MXGP campaign. The 25-year old from Malmedy recorded several podium placements in MX2 at the same time he already showed that he has what it takes to go fast in the MXGP class. “My adaptation to the Honda went very smooth, as far as fitness goes I had a solid preparation too I’m just struggling a bit with an old wrist injury so we’ll have to see how to manage that. I want to keep building during the season to get back to the level I had before and the goal is to fight for the top-5 in the second half of the season.”
Artem Guryev ran his own team in MXGP last year but joined JM Honda Racing early December: “I’m really happy to be a part of the team and even when we started working together only recently we already made good progress with the bike and my riding. Competing against the best of the world is difficult but I’m looking forward to show what I’m made of and put in a good season.” The 23-year old Russian will focus on the European MXGP rounds and the Dutch Masters of Motocross championship.
The JM Honda Racing team will start their 20-round FIM Motocross World Championship campaign on March 1 at Matterley Basin.
Words: Tom Jacobs
Pic: Eric Laurijssen