It’s been a busy February for the Suzuki World MXGP squad, with the launch of the new RM-Z450WS at the beginning of the month to then ending in Qatar at the first round of the 2017 World Championship.
Wedged in between, the team raced at Hawkstone Park in England with some promising results and then Lacapelle in France.
At the opening round of the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship at Losail in Qatar, things took a turn for the worse, with Arminas Jasikonis being refused entry into the country. Not the ideal start to the series for the rider or team.
However, the team knuckled down to work – Kevin Strijbos put in good times on the new Suzuki during practice and showed speed throughout the weekend. But poor starts hit his aspirations of a top-five spot. His 11-12 results were only good enough for 11th overall.
Strijbos appeared at a loss to explain his troubles. “First race I got a good start but ran wide and [Max] Anstie also ran wide and went off the track. I just about saved it but lost a lot of positions,” he said. “My riding though, I just couldn’t push, I didn’t have any energy or anything. I don’t know what was wrong.
“It was better in the second moto as again I got a good jump off the metal mesh but then they moved past me when we got on the soil and I couldn’t make it up. It’s something we have to work on but overall I felt way better than the first moto, I felt strong, I felt good, but it’s so difficult to pass, I think I spent the whole race behind Jeffrey Herlings. He’s a smart rider and knows how to protect his lines but I tried and the team could see I tried. The result is not great but we are going to stay positive and keep the positive things in mind for next week and we shall see what happens in Indonesia.”
There was some expectation on the team following the grand unveiling of the 2018 RM-Z450WS at the team’s headquarters in Lommel earlier this month. And the new yellow machine looked good in timed practice, only being bettered by a resurgent Tony Cairoli. “Kevin did great yesterday [Friday] with his speed in qualifying and he looked a different guy,” Stefan Everts said. “Saturday though he struggled with his starts, which weren’t helped by his gate pick and then he couldn’t make the passes.”
Kevin says the bike is running good and he’s happy so if the team can put the visa troubles behind them and get better luck off the start, the results should improve in Indonesia this weekend.