2015 MX2 Grand Prix sensation Pauls Jonass is one of several high profile factory riders hoping the clock ticks as slow as possible in the build-up to the opening round of the 2016 FIM Motocross World Championship in Qatar in two weeks.
A yanked right thumb for the Latvian and ’15 series runner-up in his first full season in MX2 forced the recently-turned 19-year-old to pull out of international race events in the UK (Hawkstone Park) and France (Valence).
The Red Bull KTM rider picked up the injury training and testing in Italy and the question now is whether #41 can be in shape come the first round of 18 at Losail. “It is slowly getting better but it is still not 100 per cent,” he said. “I thought I would be able to be on the bike after resting but we rode in France this week and by the end of the day it was hurting again. So we have decided to keep resting; my speed is there, my fitness is there I just need to get the thumb 100 per cent for Qatar but…the season is long! I have two weeks now and I think it will be okay. If I am not 100 per cent at the first round then I don’t think it will be the end of the world.”
Many eyes will be on Jonass after an impressive 2015 debut in Red Bull colours – six podium finishes – and a late surge against Tim Gajser for the MX2 crown. He benefitted from the tutelage of former multi world champion Stefan Everts during that term but lost his trainer and mentor with the Belgian’s move to assume control of the works Suzuki set-up.
Everts’ ex-rival Joel Smets is now in place as MX Director and Jonass has a full year of experience with the 250SX-F. “All the rest is really good,” he enthused. “The bike hasn’t changed so much; we improved the suspension a lot and some small things but a lot is the same as last year.”
Jonass picked up his very first set of Grand Prix silverware in the second round of the 2015 term and enters his second term as team-mate to Jeffrey Herlings with Davy Pootjes also part of the MX2 set-up.