The weather conditions at the season opener for the Maxxis British Motocross Championship could not have been any more contrasting than those facing the Route77energy Honda team. The change from scorching humidity to near-arctic conditions in less than a week was not easy to deal with, yet with two Baltic riders on the team, what could go wrong?
With the ACU switching to a wet-weather schedule, several elements were removed from the plan for the day, and thus qualifying would just be a free and timed session. MX2 rider Arminas Jasikonis clocked in just outside the top fifteen, while the two MX1 riders Tanel Leok and Jason Dougan put in two top five performances in second and fifth respectively.
In the MX2 class, Jasikonis took to the challenge of a muddy, tough sand track like a fish does to water. Although stuck in mid-pack after a middling start, the youngster progressively fought his way forward to clinch an eighth place by the chequered flag. The second race, hampered by heavy snow and sleet, also went off without a hitch. A brilliant start in fourth gave Jasikonis the confidence to continue his battle in the top five, but a small error on his part cost him his spot. A quick recovery from his spill allowed him to salvage one place and end the race in eighth for a seventh overall on the day.
In the MX1 class, things were more mixed. Much to the team’s dismay, Dougan’s qualifying time did not translate into a good result. After a difficult start, Dougan soon moved into tenth, but with just a few laps to go, his injury picked up inThailandstarted to cause issues and he was forced to pull in, collecting a disappointing thirty-fourth place in the process. The decision was made not to go out for the second race and to seek specialist advice as soon as possible.
Leok on the other hand lived up to expectations. After a tough start mid-pack, he found himself in the top ten after three laps, but after tucking in the front end, he spent the better part of a lap trying to restart the bike. With much of the pack past and the leaders not far behind him, he rejoined the race and repeated his rapid ascent, returning to ninth with the two-lap board out, and finishing the race in sixth. In the second race with the steering problem resolved, he stormed into third after the first lap and after pressuring Jonathan Barragán for several laps, Leok then closed the gap on race leader Tommy Searle to a matter of seconds. He would finish the race in second, ending the day with a fourth place overall.
Commented team principal Mark Chamberlain: “It’s hard to explain, it wasn’t a bad day I suppose. Arminas was really good in the MX2. He showed maturity in tough conditions and I was really proud of him. That was two solid rides and he only made a small mistake in the second race whilst in fifth and finished eighth, but he was in good company and I’m really, really pleased with the way he rode. Jason’s shoulder wasn’t great coming into this round, and that’s it now. He’s out until he’s back to one hundred percent strength, because he’s got to finish races which means he’s got to be fit. Tanel had a mixed day, first race he struggled a bit, didn’t get a good start and then stalled it, but he came from behind and salvaged it with an OK result in sixth, and in the second race he was where he needs to be, in second behind Tommy and not far off and a good way in front of the other guys. It was pleasing to see but we know that’s what he’s capable of. It’s not like that’s a surprise.”
Tanel Leok (#40): Today didn’t go so well. In the first race we had a small problem with the steering, I lost my balance and stalled the bike, and couldn’t start the bike for almost an entire lap. I still finished sixth in the end which was a good ride, because I couldn’t ride the way I wanted to. Second race was better, the start was better, I was third and then passed Barragán, then got a pit signal to take it easy because the bike was steaming, so I tried to finish without damaging the bike. Tommy was running good, I was second and not so far behind, I felt good, so the second race I was happy with.
Jason Dougan (#85): I went to FatCat without riding during the week due to my crash inThailandand unaware of the problem as I couldn’t get in for an MRI scan until Monday after. Qualifying actually was decent, I literally rode around two laps and managed to end up fifth, but I knew it was going to be a tough day. In the first race I had a terrible start as the clutch went funny off the line, so came from last to ninth. With three laps to go, I had a pretty big crash along the fast back straight and did my existing hurting no favours. It got the better of me this weekend. Waiting on results from the specialist following an MRI scan Monday. Hopefully it’s not serious and I can get back to 100% as I feel I’m capable to run up front. Big thanks to the team again, can’t fault their efforts, my bike is awesome.
Arminas Jasikonis (#77): Today things were going really well! The first race was not too bad, but I had a bad start in seventeenth and finished in eighth. Second race was really good, I was fourth. One guy passed me and I had a small crash and finished eighth.