Team Suzuki Press Office – July 22.
Kevin Strijbos – 10th MXGP
Arminas Jasikonis – 18th MXGP
Bas Vaessen – 9th MX2
Hunter Lawrence – 14th MX2
Jeremy Seewer – 21st MX2
Bas Vaessen was the top finishing Suzuki World rider, in what was an extremely hot and sticky day in the Czech Republic. Kevin Strijbos also rode well for a top-10 position on his return from injury while Arminas Jasikonis, Hunter Lawrence and Jeremy Seewer had to overcome crashes in their qualifying races as they tried to get as good a gate pick as possible. Despite the bad luck, all members of the team are looking forward to tomorrow and chance to score good points at this hard-pack Loket track.
Vaessen had this to say about his performance: “The day started off slowly with a bad free practice and timed session, which meant that for the qualifying race my position was so bad that I decided to go completely from the outside gate pick. I had a really good jump out the gate on my RM-Z250, with good shifting, and I was doing so well up the straight on the outside that I made the decision to stay out and just rail around everyone. It definitely worked because I came out the second corner in third place. For the next few laps I was riding a little bit too tight which let a few guys go past me and then I found my rhythm and stayed in ninth place until the end. I’m happy with the progress I made today so I’m looking forward to tomorrow, where I think it can go even better.”
After his back injury and then his elbow injury, Strijbos was hoping that he could come into this weekend in good health but a midweek crash ruined that idea and instead means that the Belgian rider was fighting through the pain barrier on his way to his 10th place finish. He gave his verdict on everything that has happened: “Today was a real struggle because I had a crash on Wednesday that ripped a load of skin off my arm. I cleaned it straight away and I did the best I could to look after it but it started to get painful yesterday and again today. I got on the track early but straight away I realised that it was bad so I went to the doctor. I think tonight we’re going to going to open it up and clean it again, take some antibiotics and hopefully that will lessen the swelling and the pain. I did the best I could in the qualifying race to tough it out. I got a good start which really helped, but then halfway through I got arm-pump which wasn’t a surprise as I hadn’t ridden much on the track earlier in the day. I’m happy to get 10th though and I was also happy that there wasn’t any pain in my back or elbow so now we just have to hope that the antibiotics help overnight so we can have a good day tomorrow.”
After his podium performance in Portugal, Jasikonis was in good position to repeat that in today’s qualification race. Unfortunately a small mistake cost him that opportunity but his confidence is still high after running in fourth place for a lot of the moto. “I was having another good race, running in fourth place and feeling good. I started from the outside and came round in fifth place which was good enough to ride with the leaders. I was following Antonio Cairoli and at one stage I was the fastest out on the track so it was a good feeling. However on this tricky track I made a slight mistake and crashed and hit my head a little bit which meant a lost a lot of time and positions. I didn’t push too much after that and finished 18th but other than that I have a good feeling for tomorrow and I know that with another good start on my RM-Z450WS I can do well when it really matters.”
Lawrence was also making his return from injury after missing the last two rounds and despite his lack of race-fitness, the Australian put on a good display in today’s qualification race. “It was only my third day back on the bike after my back injury and it went alright. I took practice and timed qualifying slowly, bit by bit, lap by lap and ended up 13th which I was quite happy with really. After just two days of riding on Wednesday and Thursday, I was honestly thinking not to race as I felt so slow and out of race shape. However I’m glad I’m here and my back feels fine. In the qualifying race we got caught up in the circus of the first turn with riders going left, right and centre and crashing. That made it difficult of course and I think I came from around 30th to 14th so we only lost one position from qualifying to race day. Definitely some positives to take out of it and I hope that tomorrow I can get some more feeling back and race a bit more like I was before the injury.”
Despite having fourth gate pick for the qualification race, Seewer suffered from a bad start that left him playing catch up the entire moto. With this track proving so difficult to pass on, he did well to get up to 21st place, but will be hoping for a much better outcome tomorrow as he battles for the MX2 championship. “I had a bad start and got squeezed out after the gate by one rider. Then another rider’s bike spat out a rock at me that hit me square in the teeth which was pretty painful. Also my goggle was pretty messed up from that rock and was filled with dirt so that made it a real struggle to have clear vision as the dirt was inside the lens. So overall the race was a real tough one, and I finished 21st which is still ok for the gate pick as it doesn’t really matter where you start here. Tomorrow is another day and we hope for a bit more luck.”
All five riders are confident that they can turn the results around for the two points scoring motos tomorrow, and with some good jumps out the gate, they believe they can challenge once again for podiums and race wins.
MXGP Qualifying Results: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 25:12.952; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:05.438; 3. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:07.923; 4. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:09.109; 5. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:10.399; 6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:11.225; 7. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:15.774; 8. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:16.817; 9. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:25.360; 10. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki World MXGP), +0:28.882; 18. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Suzuki World MXGP), +1:03.234.
MX2 Qualifying Results: 1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 23:42.845; 2. Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), +0:11.512; 3. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:13.182; 4. Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:21.032; 5. Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +0:26.198; 6. Conrad Mewse (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:27.791; 7. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:28.790; 8. Ben Watson (GBR, KTM), +0:33.166; 9. Bas Vaessen (NED, Suzuki World MX2), +0:37.872; 10. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), +0:40.596; 14. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Suzuki World MX2), +0:45.442; 21. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki World MX2), +1:00.323.