Stefan Everts and those at Suzuki World MXGP gave Arminas Jasikonis, who hails from Lithuania, a phenomenal opportunity, as he got a chance to vacate the domestic scene and tackle the full FIM Motocross World Championship from beneath a factory awning. Jasikonis impressed across the nineteen-round campaign, despite the fact that a dislocated hip caused him to miss the final two rounds, and consequently earned a contract for next year. That was eventually torn up when the team folded though, so it seemed fitting to find out if he has had any luck finding a new home.
MX Vice: First off, just talk us through your injury and what you have been up to recently. How is the recovery going at this stage?
Arminas Jasikonis: The injury is going quite well. The hip is not a joke, but everything has gone much faster than I expected. I have already had good signs from the doctor and am moving much more, putting more pressure on the leg and already starting to run and cycle. Everything is going like this and, actually, quite soon I’ll be back on a bike.
Obviously a dislocated hip can be quite painful, so did they put it back in on the track when you did it in America? Just how painful was it?
The pain was quite big. I have never had such a big amount of pain. For me, it was tough. I had to be in that pain for two hours, because they put me back [in] only in the hospital after some time. First they wanted to check that everything was fine inside of me, with my organs and everything, and only then did they say that they were going to put my leg back, because they had to make some little surgeries and put me asleep. Yeah, it was a long time. No medication was helping with the pain, so it was quite a long time.
Has it all been quite simple? There have been no complications since then, right? Obviously you were dealing with some broken ribs.
It was actually really lucky with the hip. It went out, but there was no damage with the bone or anything. Other than that, I just had a broken rib. That was it actually.
You got some awful news in the weeks following that, as if that was not bad enough, as it was revealed that Suzuki are shutting up shop. When did you find out and how did you feel?
I don’t remember when, but I guess it was the same time as when Stefan [Everts] told you. It was really painful. It is so late in the season and year, so all the factory rides and really good teams are signed. It is really hard after being on such a big team and everything. It was such a professional team. I have no experience with other teams, because it was my first professional year, but it was amazing how they worked. There is so much respect in the team and, yeah, when you get the news that it is going from such a professional thing to nothing, it is really heart-breaking. It was really bad news. It was really sad to hear when Stefan had to tell everyone.
I imagine it was quite hard to pick yourself back up after hearing news like that? Were there a few days after where you were in limbo and wondering what was going to be next?
With the injury, I already had the time free. Immediately we started to look at the possibilities. That same evening, we looked at the free spots that were not assigned. It was already tough though. Everything was already signed.
Was there interest from the smaller teams immediately? When you were talking to those people, were there a lot of concerns about your hip?
I cannot tell you who I was talking to, because of my Suzuki contract. It is hard with interest, because everyone already has their budgets and everything made, so to find something decent is hard. Everything, including the factory and non-factory teams, have plans and everything.
After having such a good bike and team this year, I guess that going back to a deal that is similar to what you had with Kawasaki last year in a national championship is something that you would not want to do?
We were talking and deciding about that. In the end, we were talking about if I go there and win. If you are going to the ADAC then, to be honest, you are going to go there to win. If you win there though, it does not give you much. If you go to MXGP and ride with all the strongest guys, then you have to push forward as there are still guys in front of you. If you go to the ADAC and win every race, you are not moving forward. There is no one in front of you anymore. That is the thing that we have been talking about. Obviously you would not win every race and everything, but you have to go be in MXGP if you want to be a good rider.
Obviously you cannot say who you have been talking to, but is it looking positive for the future? Are you confident now that you are going to be in MXGP next year?
I cannot tell you much, but I am going to be in MXGP that is for sure. That is my plan and I am going to do everything to be there, so yes I will be in MXGP. That is the only way to become a top rider.
Has a contract been signed with someone yet then or has that still got to be finalised?
This I cannot confirm.
Just on your season quickly, the improvements that you made were phenomenal. You have got to be happy overall?
We had ups and downs, you know. In the end I had some decent results. Portugal was the race of my life. Everyone was expecting me to be strong on the sand, but I also proved that I can be strong on the hard-pack too. You saw in Lommel that I was also decent, as I could ride strong, but I had broken ribs. I had to take so many tablets and I was not even thinking clear, because of the amount of pain that I had to ride through. It was so tough.
Even in the qualifying race, in the beginning I was feeling so good and could follow Jeffrey [Herlings]. Then, in the end, I had so much pain and had to slow down. It was the same in the motos. In the first moto I had no luck, but in the second moto there was so much pain that I had to go through. When you look through all of the races, there were quite a lot of disappointments. There were many races that were positive though.
Obviously you had to develop the all-new RM-Z450 this year. With you being so young and inexperienced, do you think that held you back a bit at the beginning of the year? I imagine you did not have a lot of experience with testing.
Yeah, sure, as a test rider I have still got to learn. I think I already understand it pretty well for a twenty-year-old. I’m the type of rider who sticks with a set-up, if I already decide that I like it. Instead of changing everything, I try to stick with it and adapt to it. The bike was decent. With the handling and everything, they improved so much. We did not have to work too much to change this or that, we just tested some small steps. We tried some different stuff, but mostly we just came back to my main set-up. It was working the best for me.
Finally, what is next for you? When do you think you’ll be back on a bike? What do you think the next few weeks, or months, will look like?
Well, right now I am trying to get my right leg back to my shape. I think that it will not be long before I can sit on the bike for some easy riding, like three weeks. It is going to be tough for me before the first GP; I am going to have to put a lot of work in. I have got to get really strong again. It is not going to be easy, but I really want to be a top rider. Last year in interviews I said that I was going to surprise and I did that in a couple of races, so now I am really motivated to prove that I can still go even more. I want to come back next year even better.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Suzuki Racing