Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s MXGP class duo Pauls Jonass and Arminas Jasikonis have made their first competitive outing of the new season, competing in the opening round of the 2020 Internazionali d’ Italia MX series in Riola Sardo, Sardinia.
Using the event to further their preparations ahead of the first round of the 2020 MXGP World Championship, which kicks off in Great Britain in five weeks’ time, it was Jasikonis who claimed the best results, finishing fifth in the MX1 race and a strong third in the combined 450cc/250cc Supercampione race.
As expected, the soft, rough and rutted sand track delivered demanding conditions, which challenged all riders during the event’s 450cc, 250cc and combined 450cc and 250cc races. Like many competing in Sardinia, the opening round of the Italian series saw Jonass and Jasikonis line-up behind a competitive start gate for the first time this year.
In the opening MX1 race it was Jasikonis who secured the highest finish for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna with a fifth-place result. Not making the best of starts, the tall Lithuanian rounded out the opening lap in 12th before starting to work his way through the pack. Up to eighth by lap four, two laps later he was in sixth. Improving one position on lap 13 he completed the race in a solid fifth.
For Pauls Jonass the day’s opening race proved challenging as the former MX2 World Champion suffered with arm pump. Starting inside the top 10, Jonass held sixth between laps two and six, only to drop back to his eventual finishing position of 11th.
Lining up with the top 20 450cc and top 20 250cc riders in the event’s Supercampione moto, Jasikonis again performed well to earn a deserved podium position in third. Close to falling when he was forced to ride over the stricken bike of Mitchell Evans on the exit of the second corner, AJ then completed a frantic opening lap down in 15th position.
Much as he did in the MX1 moto, Arminas charged hard to move from 15th to eighth by the second lap. Maintaining his strong pace, he climbed to third by lap seven where he remained for the closing laps, eventually joining Tim Gajser and Jeremy Seewer on the Supercampione podium.
Showing impressive speed and running as high as fourth on lap three of the Supercampione race, Pauls Jonass was forced to retire from the moto on lap 10 with a technical issue.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing will return to action on February 2 for the second round of the Internazionali d’ Italia MX in Ottobiano.
Arminas Jasikonis:“This Riola track is always tough – it’s a great workout and really tests your fitness. Obviously, I’m very pleased with finishing third in the Supercampione race and also fifth in the MX1 race – it’s a very positive way to end the day. Racing with the 250s in the Supercampione race always makes things difficult at the start – the 450s were taken really wide on the first corner and then I rode over Mitchell Evans’ bike when he fell in the racing line. The first lap was pretty chaotic after that with riders crashing everywhere. I just tried to be smooth and stay upright. Things settled down then and I worked hard to make quick passes and find the best lines. The track was really rough, but I enjoyed it. This is a good set of results for me and I’m looking forward to continuing my training ahead of the next round.”
Pauls Jonass:“It’s not been the results I’d have liked, but it’s good to get the season started. I really struggled with arm pump, so I wasn’t able to push hard like I needed to. My starts were ok, my bike was great and my speed was there, but the arm pump really held me back. I wasn’t going to take chances feeling like I did. Also, the track was much faster than normal, with lots of small bumps, fighting against it with arm pump wasn’t too much fun. But like I said, it’s good to get this first race done. Not the easiest day, but we’ll keep working and move on to the second round of the series now.”