Team Suzuki Press Office – September 6.
After jetting back quickly from America, the Belgium-based Suzuki World MXGP team will head just over the border to the Netherlands and the road-racing circuit of Assen, which has been transformed once again into a motocross facility for this weekend’s race. The team will consist of just Kevin Strijbos, Jeremy Seewer and Hunter Lawrence for the penultimate round of the series after injuries to Arminas Jasikonis and Bas Vaessen rule them out of the competition.
Despite suffering a dislocated hip in the first moto of the USGP, Jasikonis was able to travel back with the team from America and was upgraded to business class in an effort to make the long-distance travel as comfortable as possible. Since back in Belgium, he has seen Dr Alex Demurie and received a promising initial prognosis: “I will be able to start full movement in about six weeks, I can start cycling and getting back to full fitness. For now, I will be doing physiotherapy to keep my leg moving, so as not to lose any of the muscle mass. I was really lucky because I didn’t do any major damage, the leg just popped out and they were able to put it back in. There was no damage to the bone or any nerves. Actually, right now, my ribs are hurting me a lot more. If I turn on my side in my sleep, it is like being stabbed with knife. Even though I will miss these last two races, I think it has been a great year for me with the Suzuki World MXGP team.”
His teammate Strijbos will be racing, but the track doesn’t hold great memories for him, something that the Belgian is hoping to put right at the weekend: “Assen is something a little different. It’s not a real track in my opinion. They put sand down but it’s such strange sand that I just don’t feel comfortable on the track. Last year I did really badly but we had a good last race in America so I will practice one day this week just to get to back into the swing of things with the timezone changes and everything. We made a big step forward with the shock before going to America and I think that will help me in Assen so I’m looking forward to it now and I will do my best to get a good result.”
MX2 rider Seewer also hasn’t had a great time at this venue the past two years but believes that year he can continue his good 2017 form: “Assen isn’t my favourite track as I struggled really badly the last two years. Last year I had one of my worst results, with all the rain and everything so I’m looking to try and turn that around. It’s nice to have the road-racing facility and the clean, tarmac pits but it does make the track a little dangerous with all the metal fences and barriers right next to the waves sections and other places around the course. I’m still looking forward to it though and I’ll do my best as always. I want to turn it all around and try and get something from a race that previously I haven’t been able to.”
Rookie Lawrence is riding a wave of confidence right now and although he hasn’t ridden the track before, he is hoping that he can replicate his USGP results back in Europe: “I’ve heard a lot of things about Assen, having not actually raced there before. I know they build the track in the MotoGP circuit which I think is pretty cool with that big bank of spectators. I look forward to the sand, I enjoy the sand, just like in America which wasn’t too deep, but was still soft and sandy. It’ll be nice to get back to Europe and try and continue on from my results last weekend at this new track.”
Unfortunately, Vaessen won’t be able to ride his home GP as he is still side-lined with his collarbone injury. The Dutch rider will have a check-up on Thursday to determine whether he will be fit enough to race at the last round in France, the weekend after Assen.
While once again the prospect of rain is likely, the healthy trio of Strijbos, Seewer and Lawrence head to the famous motorsport venue for the 18th round of the 2017 World Motocross Championships with buoyed confidence and belief that this year the track will hold better fortune than years’ past.