Arminas Jasikonis is perplexing. There are some in the Grand Prix pits who rate him quite highly and believe that he must be on a full-factory team, then others who question whether he has already hit his peak. This obviously explains why there have been varied reactions since it was announced that he has signed for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing squad.
There are many ways to tackle this subject and, actually, this could be the best place to kick everything off. Arminas Jasikonis is twenty-one-years-old currently, which makes him the same age as Pauls Jonass. Is that shocking? It sure is. Everyone seems to forget about that but perhaps noting that makes it understandable why a factory squad, like Husqvarna or Suzuki previously, feel the need to roll the dice and give him a shot. This industry is built on searching for the next big thing and some will do whatever they can to do just that. It is certainly an approach that Husqvarna have opted for. It would actually be interesting to know whether there has ever been a factory team in the 450F division with a lower average age.
What can Arminas Jasikonis actually achieve? This is where things get a bit complicated. Jasikonis has stood on the box once before, at the Grand Prix of Portugal a year ago, and he had a brace of thirds in those races on that day, so there is no doubt that he deserved it and did not just luck into the finish. That was enough for some to go all in and predict that he can do that consistently, despite the fact that he has not really been close since then. Perhaps he can? Consistency is clearly the problem that needs to be tackled and Husqvarna will be able to help him fix that. There is almost no doubt that Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing is the best place for him to be.
It is obvious that his season with Assomotor Honda has added to the confusion about his potential, but those results should really just be wiped from the record. There were a few teething issues over there and he did not even make it to the second half of the season, so it was just a disaster by all accounts. How easy will it be to rebound from that? It seems as though he has been very focussed on next year for quite some time now. The fact that his deal was done so early on in the season, around the time of the Grand Prix of France, obviously helped alleviate some stress too. It seems as though his new contract is for just one year though, which only adds to the intrigue.
The next instalment of silly season is going to be very intriguing in the FIM Motocross World Championship. Clement Desalle, Julien Lieber, Brian Bogers, Romain Febvre, Max Anstie and a handful of others will be in need of new deals and therefore there could be a lot of movement on factory outfits. There is definitely a need for Arminas Jasikonis to perform this coming season. Even if he does not make a splash and step onto the podium at all, he must at least not drop out of the top ten. This may seem like an odd requirement for a factory guy and there is no doubt that everyone wants more than that. However, as mentioned previously in this piece, it is something that Jasikonis has not yet mastered.
All of this arguably ties into the fact that he is just twenty-one-years-old and has only had two years on the international stage, but the structure that the premier-class side of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing awning can offer will help him to come on leaps and bounds. There is an in-house trainer, who trains the riders in the same workshop that the mechanics use to build bikes and then travels to each Grand Prix and test day to continuously monitor progress. There is simply not an opportunity to put a foot wrong off of the bike or to question whether something is correct. A strict regime irritates some, but for an inexperienced rider like Arminas Jasikonis it may be the missing piece.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Husqvarna Motorcycles/Bavo Swijgers