For Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider Arminas Jasikonis, the 2019 season is very much a learning experience. Having made his mark on the MXGP class in 2017 under the factory Suzuki tent, he suddenly found himself without a factory ride last year and it was an experience that saw him struggling, and seemingly his journey in the toughest class in the world could have ended as quickly as it started.
When Antti Pyrhonen gave him the call around the end of 2018, the Lithuanian rider was excited to once again have the tools to make progress in the sport and teaming up with former MX2 World champion Paul Jonass meant he would have a good team-mate to train with.
Now four rounds into this year’s championship, Jasikonis sits in fourth place in the MXGP standings, and nearly made the podium in Valkenswaard. His 4-4 results an indication of what he is capable of and made sure he started believing in himself even more.
“For me it was a really good weekend in The Netherlands,” Jasikonis said. “I felt on top form and kept improving my pace every time I was on track. If my starts were a little bit better in the races, my overall result would have been even better. Not getting the best of starts in either race, I had to fight my way through the pack. Despite not getting great starts I ended up sharing the exact same points as third placed Tim Gajser and that gives me the extra motivation to continue pushing hard. I am really happy with where I’m at right now.”
A week earlier in Great Britian, the Husky rider put together 9-4 and you could see he was gaining confidence in his new team. Despite the bad start in Race 1 it didn’t dent his determination to find the form that surprised everyone two years ago.
“I was happy with how things went here in England. I was making some steps forward and that was easy to see in the second race. In the opening race I could not get the best of starts and lost some time making passes. I kept pushing and ended up in ninth place. My start was a lot better in Race two and I quickly found myself in fourth position. I did my best to remain consistent and it paid off. My speed is good at the moment and the goal is to keep improving in each GP and each race.”
It was then onto the hard pack of Trentino in Italy, and for sure another hard race for Jasikonis. Not his type of surface, but as we have seen so far this year, he wasn’t about to let a tough situation get the better of him.
“To come away from this GP sixth overall and now also up to fourth in the championship is great. It’s certainly not one of my favourite tracks, being slippery and hard to pass makes it really difficult, so I’m really happy with my results, and also my riding this weekend. In the first race it was just difficult for me to make passes. I managed to improve a few places during the early laps, my riding was ok, but once I got into ninth I couldn’t get any further ahead. Not the best result but also not a disaster. The second race was better. I was further ahead from the start but again it was tough to make passes. But it was a good way to finish the GP. So far things have been very positive – I’ve finished inside the top 10 in all the races we’ve had. Some results have been better than others, but the consistency has been there, which is good. There’s still a long way to go but fourth in the championship is very positive.”
What the Lithuanian giant can expect is some easier races after Trentino, when he again gets to ride the sand of Mantova in May, a circuit where he might just get himself onto the podium and continue his climb up the ranking ladder.