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Suzuki confirm Jasikonis for 2017!

Suzuki confirm Jasikonis for 2017!
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Team Suzuki World MXGP have made the trip to North Carolina and the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Grand Prix of Americas and the penultimate round of 2016 MXGP with their riding roster sealed for next year.

Kevin Strijbos will be joined by Arminas Jasikonis on the works RM-Z450s after the young Lithuanian impressed with his open attitude and approach since being drafted into the team to substitute for the injured Ben Townley. As the 17th appointment of 18 in the current FIM Motocross World Championship gets ready for action this Saturday evening ‘AJ’ is safe in the knowledge that his final two gatedrops for the Lommel-based crew will not be his last for the foreseeable future.

MXGP travels overseas for an American back-to-back finale with the race in Charlotte swiftly followed by the Grand Prix of USA at Glen Helen in San Bernardino in California. Little is known about the new-build ‘Supercourse’ across the Charlotte dirt track oval but the paddock is expecting a largely flat and jump-laden course, as well as decent temperatures around the mid-20s. Jasikonis is making his first major competitive outing in the U.S. on the back of a personal best moto result of seventh in Assen last Sunday for what was only his fourth ride on the RM-Z450.

“It has always been a dream to reach Grand Prix and I think I am the first from Lithuania to reach this far,” the tall 18 year old said. “Now getting a contract for next year is ‘something else’. I’m really happy and I cannot quite believe it but I know the work really just begins now. Before riding was just about having fun and joking around…now I am really motivated and I have big expectations of myself. I will be working so hard over the winter and I’ll be doing everything the team advise me to do. I’ll be going big for next year.”

Although he came to MXGP as a relative unknown, and was riding in the ADAC MX Masters German series, Jasikonis has already made his mark within the team and the ‘#177’ has started to trouble the top-10 of what is a very difficult premier class. “I know I could do better in the previous GPs,” he says. “I put a lot of pressure on myself because I wanted to stay for next year. There will still be pressure next season but everything will be pretty new and an adventure but I will be making the best out of it.”

Now a fully-fledged Grand Prix rider he insists there are only a few alterations to make in preparation for his maiden term with Suzuki. “There won’t be too many big changes,” he believes. “I’ll change physical trainer and I’m very thankful for what has been done for me so far, but we must move forward. I have changed my doctor as well and the set-up is very nice and professional. I live only five minutes from the team and have been there for three years so that will stay.”

Lastly Jasikonis will benefit from the wisdom and close tutelage of General Manager (and former 10 times World Champion) Stefan Everts. “Even from these few races I have taken so much experience already,” he comments on working with the renowned Belgian. “I’m a big rookie with not much experience at all; sometimes I am too ‘goon’ in many places on the bike! We will work in the winter on that and of course to be with the best you cannot ask for any more. I will be nineteen and it is time…and I will learn fast.”

“We brought Arminas into the team to give him a chance and see how he would develop and work with the guys and we’ve been pleased and surprised,” says Everts. “He is still so young but is very willing to listen, learn and work on his riding from all angles. He is a strong rider and although he lacks experience, this will come. The most exciting thing for us is that he represents a great project for next season and the future and we are looking forward to seeing where we can go together in 2017. I also like the line-up of the team now with Kevin and all those seasons and podiums in Grand Prix and then Arminas who is the next generation.”

Strijbos will attempt to snare as many of the maximum haul of 100 points remaining this season; a campaign that has been interrupted by injury but also carries the highlight of his home Grand Prix victory at Lommel. In particular he will be searching for some swift positive feelings at Charlotte after a difficult outing last weekend across the sand of Assen. The Belgian is just 16 points away from entering the top-10 of the MXGP standings.

Another rider hoping for swift bounceback from a tricky day in Holland is Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer. The Swiss has been confirmed as runner-up in the MX2 World Championship thanks to his 108-point advantage over Benoit Paturel but the 22 year old but still wants to erase the sour taste of his least effective Sunday of (a superb) season so far where he classified 14. “It was the first GP this year where I felt really disappointed,” he said afterwards at Assen. “In all the others I think I showed good speed, made results and been consistent. You get days like this and you have to handle them and get better.”

“I think I can forget about it pretty quickly; I’m usually quite strong with matters like that,” he added. “I’ll analyze the GP, see where we can learn and look forward. I’m excited to go overseas again. Charlotte will be a new track for us.” Seewer could reach 11 podium finishes for the year with another trophy in Charlotte or Glen Helen with both races expected to feature wildcard outings from prominent AMA athletes. The ‘#91’ is joined by Bas Vaessen who, unlike his two other colleagues, will be surfing a wave of momentum from Assen where he reached as high as second position on his first Grand Prix of 2016 and the first in front of a home crowd. “It will be pretty different but I’m excited about Charlotte and I think we have some special weekends coming up,” the young Dutchman enthused.

The Grand Prix of Americas is a nocturnal affair with practice and qualification starting late Friday afternoon with the races expected to culminate with the final MXGP moto around 20.00 local time on Saturday.

MXGP World Championship Standings (after 16 of 18 rounds): 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 653 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 588 p.; 3. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 542 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 522 p.; 5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 494 p.; 6. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 477 p.; 7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 347 p.; 8. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 342 p.; 9. Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 326 p.; 10. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 307 p.; 11. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki World MXGP), 291 p.; 18. Ben Townley (NZL, Suzuki World MXGP), 128 p. 24. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Suzuki World MXGP), 47 p.

MX2 World Championship Standings (after 16 of 18 rounds): 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 644 points; 2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki World MX2), 568 p.; 3. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 460 p.; 4. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 447 p.; 5. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 403 p.; 6. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 378 p.; 7. Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 351 p.; 8. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 349 p.; 9. Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 341 p.; 10. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 320 p.; 31. Brian Hsu (GER, Suzuki World MX2), 43 p.; 34. Bas Vaessen (NED, Suzuki World MX2), 33 p.

Article: Suzuki PR

Pic: Nigel McKinstry

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