Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, once again the great Stefan Everts is with us.
Hi,Stefan. First of all many congratulations for the great results your team had in Portugal.
Thank you, we are very happy with these results. Jeremy Seewer has been doing well this year and I think that for him it is a big statement to win back to back GP’s (Ottobiano and Agueda). He had a nice big battle, specially in Race 2 with his big rival Pauls Jonass. On top of that, Arminas Jasikonis made his first podium ever. It was a big surprise. He’s been doing good so far this season and every time he’s coming better and better but personally I didn’t expect him to be on podium in Portugal. Already on Saturday, he showed good speed and felt very good and he won the qualifying race. After that, I started to think that it could be possible for him to be on the podium. He did two great races on Sunday. Everyone at Suzuki is very happy for his achievement.
I suppose you are very satisfied with Arminas Jasikonis performances throughout the first half of the season? After all, he had great results even before Agueda.
The one which stands out is Lommel, from last year. In the first race, he was only five-six seconds behind P1. It’s something amazing to see. We know that Aja, as we call him, is very fast in the sand and he just needed the confidence to do well in a hard pack track. Portugal is not a very sandy track and that was an important factor for his podium. He is improving, in the first GP’s he wasn’t racing so well, but he’s working really hard. We have pushed him very hard during the winter and during the season to keep up the hard work. Eventually the results came.
You are the Suzuki Factory MXGP Team Manager from 2016. The first year had a lots of ups and downs. What about the second part of this season. Are you satisfied with your results in the MXGP and MX2?
Not a hundred percent. I have a bit of mixed feelings. First of all, with Arminas, he started off with the VISA problem in Qatar. In the first moto from Indonesia, he messed up. He had a tough start of the season, but the things are now starting to go better. Kevin Strijbos was injured from Valkenswaard till Agueda. In MX2, Jeremy has performed good, but to win the title he has to be more consistent. The first half was OK, but it could have been better. I have expected to be a little bit better, but the season is not over yet. Everything is still open for the last half of the season.
What are your main objectives for the second part of the season?
In MXGP the main objective is to get Kevin back to get a lot of speed. He needs good results. He won last year at Lommel. I really hope he can improve his form. Lommel is his home track and together with Aja, I really believe we can make a fantastic weekend there. Also, for the rest of the season, I hope we can make some top five finishes and maybe some extra podiums.
In MX2, we want to go for the championship with Jeremy. After Portugal is all clear. He needs to go out and win races. After Agueda, I think he gained a lot of confidence. Hunter Lawrence was injured at the ADAC race, he missed Italy and Portugal, but he will be back at Loket. For him, it will be enough to rebuild his fitness and speed. The same goes for Bas Vaessen. All the eyes are mainly on Jeremy.
You spoke earlier about Kevin Strijbos. Do you expect another win like the one he took last year at Lommel? If not from him, maybe from Jasikonis?
It would be amazing for us to take a win, but Cairoli and Herlings are going really fast and are in a good form at the moment. It’s not gonna be that easy. Another podium finish would already be fantastic, which I think it is possible for both of them. To win? We have to see.
What is Kevin Strijbos current status with Suzuki? Will he stay with Suzuki? Will he go to another team. Will he retire?
We have not yet renewed the contract. We will see in a few weeks.
So it’s nothing yet decided?
It’s more or less decided which way we will go, but I cannot say officially yet.
I want to ask a more personal questions as you are a father of a GP race. How is your son, Liam, doing? Will he race at Loket? I suppose there’s a race in his category there?
Yes, there will be a race, but he has not qualified for the race. He missed a few of the pre-qualifying race. He needed to be inside the top ten, so he will not be there. We are on stand by. Usually, in the last moment, riders get injured, so we are on the stand by list. The first ten of each european region in the pre-qualifying races can go. Liam is not there. If Friday is a free spot, he will be there. On the other hand, he will race in the world championship race in Estonia.
We are approaching the end of the interview. In the last weeks, rumours had it that Justin Barcia and Malcolm Stewart will race for the Suzuki Factory Team in MXGP. Can you tell us more about these rumours?
Nothing more than just a rumour. We haven’t spoken to anybody. I had a talk last year with Stewart and Barcia for this season, but it never really came close. We have only space for two riders and that’s it. As well for the future, and we already have the riders, and it’s not Barcia or Stewart.
A former Suzuki rider retired in May. I’m talking about Ryan Dungey. He decided to retire at only 27, like Ricky Carmichael did ten years ago. What do you think about Ryan Dungey’s decision to retire so early?
That’s a personal decision and I think it’s not a physical thing, it’s usually more the mental part. It was my case, for instance. I still like to ride my bike even today and l still love to do the trainings. I think Ryan Dungey was inspired to retire at his peak with a championship. In this way, it’s one of the nicest thing to do. A lot of athletes continue to race after they reached their peak, and I think it’s not cool. If you are a champion you should try to walk away as a champion and that’s how the people will remember you.
That’s what you did in 2006 after you won the tenth and last world championship.
Exactly. For me it was the most important thing to do.
In the end, I want to ask you what is your opinion on Ricky Carmichael’s return to race in the Aus X-Open?
I don’t know, is he really serious with the announcement? If he does that. He has no reason to prove anything to anybody. Still, it’s his decision.
It’s an one event only.
I don’t know. I would not do it. It’s hard for me to make decisions for someone else. It’s his choice.
Have you ever thought on returning to race on events like Aus X-Open?
No. I have only did two or three races after my retirement. Besides that, no other race.
Stefan, I would kindly ask you to send a message to the motocross fans?
Thank you for reading. Hope to see you soon in the GP track. Come to see the Suzuki squad. I want to wish everyone a good summer and good holidays.
Hopefully, we will meet at Loket.
We will be there, who knows, maybe we will meet there.
Stefan, thank you very much for your time.
Thank you, no problem.