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NICE GUYS DON’T FINISH LAST

One of the most anticipated races of the year took place last weekend, gathering motocross fanatics from all around the world in the sandy man-made circuit of Assen, the Netherlands. Team Latvia, led by the national hero and one of the most promising athletes of the MXGP class Pauls Jonass, placed 8th amongst 34 other nations.

After having been allotted the 10th gate pick for qualification race, Team Latvia riders, Pauls included, felt pumped for the upcoming races. After a decent performance by both of his teammates, Pauls decided to take the matters in his own hands during the 3rd quali race of the rainy day. Placing 2nd straight after the gate drop, he swiftly managed to overtake Kevin Strijbos for the race lead, maintaining the position for the rest of the moto. When asked about his performance, Pauls admitted to “feeling very happy and excited for the races on Sunday, especially due to the fact that a Latvian had never before won a qualification race at the MXoN event”.

Sunday did not spoil neither the fans nor the riders – it was pouring the whole time, making the preparation of the track a nightmare for even the experienced of organisers; however, the organising team in Assen managed to, even despite the conditions, come thorough and deliver.

After watching both of his teammates compete during the first moto, Pauls was ready to face the best racers in the world. The MX2 and Open race started off quite well, Jonass already being upfront amongst the leaders. He spent most of the race in the 2nd position, sporadically catching up to Glenn Coldenhoff who led the whole moto. The Latvian crossed the finish line just after the leader, delivering the best ever MXoN result for Team Latvia.

It was time to wrap up the biggest motocross event of the year, and MXGP and Open riders were lining up. The 3rd moto started off similarly to the previous one, and the young athlete once again managed to be amongst the frontrunners of the pack. Pauls was switching between 3rd and 4th position for a while, yet in the end concluded that a higher position would probably benefit his team a bit more. Finishing 2-3 for a 2nd place overall amongst the Open riders, Jonass showed everyone present and behind the TV screens around the world that he is a force to be reckoned with, both now and definitely in the future.

“Wow, what a crazy race,” said Pauls.  “Just like everyone else, I knew this was going to be a really tough day, but I like these conditions and was really looking forward to it. Also, I wanted to end my season with good results. I did that, and Team Latvia finished 8th overall, our best ever result.” Asked about the track conditions, Jonass admitted that “the sand was so, so deep in places – it was so easy to make a mistake.” 

“I got a good start in the first race, which was really important. Being close to the front of the pack makes a big, big difference. I made some passes and felt good in the 2nd heat. I pushed to try and close the gap between Glenn [Coldenhoff] and I, but got stuck with a lapper and dropped back. Also, I got a decent start in the second race and just tried to keep pushing forwards. The conditions were really bad, so to finish the Nations with a 2-3 result is fantastic. Everyone in the team has worked so hard this weekend, it’s an amazing way to finish the season,” he concluded cheerfully.

Even though the season of 2019 has officially ended, there’s no downtime when it comes to being prepared for the next year, so stay tuned for updates from Pauls on his social media and here as well. See you in 2020, folks!

Written by Nikola Serge

Image by Juan Pablo Acevedo

BITTERSWEET ENDINGS

The last chapter of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship was terminated in a quite exotic location never seen on the MXGP calendar before. Hong Kong hosted the 20th round with wide smiles and open arms, hoping for everyone to end his season the same way.

It is visible even to the unobservant of us that Pauls has finally found his groove. After a great start during the qualifying race, he came though 4th in a race which turned out to be quite the battle between the guys upfront. Asked about his performance later that day, the Latvian brushed off his performance as being “alright” and said that he’s looking forward to finish the season on a great note, hopefully even a podium finish at the last round. 

The track in Hong Kong had other plans on mind. Luckily, Pauls was fortunate enough to avoid any mistakes and, most importantly, huge crashes unlike some of his rivals. After a decent start Pauls was amongst the riders upfront, and skilfully maintained 5th position until the end of the moto, keeping his teammate Arminas Jasikonis behind within a safe distance.

The following and last race of the championship this year was not as cheerful as many of us wanted it to be. Even though Pauls rode well and finished 7th, there was a feeling of something being left undone. The 5 points that kept the Latvian from rising to the 5th spot in the overall classification also didn’t help with the mood.

Nonetheless, a major amount of work has been done this year. “I have some mixed feelings after this MXGP of China. With some podium results in recent races, I really wanted the same result here to end the year on a high note. But I didn’t feel as sharp as I have been feeling in the previous rounds. I’m not sure if it’s the jetlag, but anyway it certainly wasn’t a bad way to end the series,” said Jonass. “I got pretty good starts in both races ,but dropped back a little afterwards. Sixth overall is a pretty decent result. Also, to finish sixth in the MXGP championship is very positive. It was a steady start to the year, coming back from injury and also adjusting to the MXGP bike. The second half of the year was very positive – I started to improve my strength, feeling with the bike, starts and results. Now we’ll focus on the Nations before some time at home and preparation for next season.”

Indeed, the last piece of the puzzle will be put in place at the end of September when the best of the best will be gathering for a Motocross of Nations showdown in Assen, the Netherlands.

Written by Nikola Serge

Image by Juan Pablo Acevedo

THE SHOW MUST GO ON

On September 7 and 8 in Afyonkarahisar, Turkey, the second-to-last round of the FIM Motocross World Championship was held. The young Latvian rider Pauls Jonass earned his sweet spot on the podium, finishing 2-5 for a 3rd place overall.

Even before actually being in Turkey, Pauls was already excited since the following round was something different from the European vibe in the paddock that everyone’s already used to. Despite Turkey being the place where Jonass lost his hopes for a consecutive world title last year after colliding with Jorge Prado after one of the jumps and injuring his ACL, he was well over it this year. After a terrible start during Saturday’s qualification, Pauls fought his way up from dead-last to 9th, passing his rivals one by one. “Unfortunately, I fell right after the start and had to start all over again. I have to admit, I am quite happy with how the rest of the race turned out, and, despite the lack of time, I think I did a pretty good job,” admitted Jonass right after the quali heat.

It was proven once again on Sunday that Pauls has his mind and his muscles in all the right places. After a spectacular holeshot, the Latvian lead the whole MXGP pack for about a lap, later being passed by Jeffrey Herlings. This did not discourage Jonass, and he kept following the leader for the rest of the race, losing just 5 seconds at the end and finishing 2nd.

The next moto started off comparatively worse, yet Pauls was still in the Top10. He continued fighting for a higher position, and after eight laps winded up 5th, where he stayed for the remaining of the moto. The points he had earned were enough for Pauls to once again claim the 3rd step of the podium next to Jeffery Herlings and Glenn Coldenhoff. After this GP, Jonass is now in the 6th position in the championship classification, having passed his teammate Arminas Jasikonis.

“I felt great the whole weekend. To be honest, I wish the season wouldn’t come to and end this quickly since I’m finally used to the bike, its’ settings, the elements of each track… Of course, there’s one more round to go. And then there are the Nations, where I’ll be racing alongside Davis Ivanovs and Toms Macuks, representing Team Latvia. Hopefully I can make the most of it, so that the closure of the season is on a positive note and serves as a good motoivation for next year,” revealed Pauls after the MXGP of Tureky.

The next stop of the championship is Hong Kong in China, where the medals will be awarded and the season of 2019 will come to and end.

Written by Nikola Serge

Image by Juan Pablo Acevedo

AMONGST THE VIKINGS

The Uddevalla circuit in Sweden is one of the favourite stops for the Latvian Pauls Jonass for a good reason. With the return of the Swedish GP many PJ41 Team supporters and fans quietly were hoping for a turn of the events and, quite possibly, a weekend full of positive emotions. Pauls did not disappoint.

It could be sensed on Friday that the young athlete is in good spirits with his surroundings and, in fact, himself. After being asked about his thoughts on Saturday’s qualification race, Pauls, as per usual, responded that he will just try to do his best and look for a better starting position. After a great time practice, in which Pauls placed 1st, the quali race also started off nicely, the Latvian being one of the first few athletes who crossed the FOX Holeshot line. He spent most of the 20 minute race in the 4th position, losing only 5 seconds to the race leader.

On Sunday, the first race kicked just as well as the one on Saturday, Jonass closely following the leaders. He spent most of the moto being 4th and finishing that way. 2nd race was also off on a good note, and after a while Pauls was able to move up to the 3rd, and later – 2nd place for a brief moment. After being passed by a rival, the Latvina still winded up in the No.3 spot both at the end of the race and in the round overall classification.

“I’m really happy with my performance the past weekend – it feels great to be back on the podium again. It makes all the hard work by myself and the whole team worth it, and it shows we are definitely making progress, which was the goal this season. My starts were better this weekend, which helps a lot at this track, and I was then able to keep a good pace and stay with the top guys. The bike was great all weekend – we were able to make some changes to the suspension settings, which helped a lot here in Sweden. There was a lot of Latvian fans here this weekend and they made it feel like a home race for me, so thanks to them and I’m glad I was able to give them a good result,” revealed Jonass.

The next and second-to-last round of the 2019 season will be happening in Turkey in 2 weeks time. Despite the champions being already crowned, the fight for the rest of the positions are still on.

Written by Nikola Serge

Image by Juan Pablo Acevedo

ALMOST THERE?

For some, the MXGP of Imola promised to be one of the highlights of the whole season. For others, it was just another round trying to climb the ladder of the championship points overall classification. Pauls found himself somewhere in the middle, demonstrating some skilful riding, yet coming out just a bit short of a podium-finish.

Jonass kicked off the weekend on a good note, finding himself in the 4th position after the first four laps of qualifying race on Saturday. Unfortunately, the Latvian once again suffered from arm-pump, which lead to him falling back a bunch of positions and ending up in 8th place when reaching the checkered flag. “I am kind of bummed about the positions I lost during the quali heat,” admitted Jonass. “I was riding really well and even tried to catch up with the Top3 guys, but, as it has happened before, arm-pump kicked in and I couldn’t do anything about it but just slowly fall back into the pack.” 

On Sunday, the atmosphere at the track was electrifying. Thousands of Slovenian fans flooded in to witness their local hero Tim Gajser claim his 3rd World Championship title. In the meantime, there was no gifting him the sought-after championship points. Many riders, Pauls included, did everything in their power to overshadow the Slovenian. After a great start in the first moto, Jonass found himself amongst the first four riders again, at one point even climbing up to the No.3 spot. A mistake cost him to fall back to 8th position, yet the young athlete managed to recover and finish being 6th.

Second race was quite similar, Pauls flirting with the No.3 spot for most of the race; however, it was Jeremy Seewer who managed to finish inside the Top3. At the end of the race, Pauls was passed by another rival and ended up placing 5th, a solid finish that bought the same position in the MXGP of Italy overall chart. 

“I’m happy with 5th place, but felt we could have done a little better. I got decent starts in both races, so that is a really positive change. We were able to identify a few places where I was losing a little time, and I know I still need to work on my strength for riding the 450cc, especially on a technicals surfaces like the one today. The track was heavy going and quite slippery in places, like on the take offs of the jumps – a lot of the time one had to fire out the corners really hard to clear them, and that was pretty tricky. We had good pace today and a good set up – just need to work on bringing it all together and saving the smoothness throughout the whole race. It’s MXGP of Sweden next, which is one of my favourite circuits, so I’m looking forward to that,” smiled Jonass.

As mentioned before, the next stage of the FIM Motocross World Championship will be taking place next weekend in the scenic circuit of Uddevalla in Sweden.

Written by Nikola Serge

Image by Juan Pablo Acevedo

DEEP RUTS AND TIMID STRUTS

The 14th round of the FIM Motocross World Championship was held in Lommel, Belgium. The circuit is considered to be one if the toughest tracks in the race calendar due to it’s sandy layout and ruts, frequently measuring up to 1 meter in depth.

Pauls kicked off his weekend by being just outside the Top10 during the qualifying race. The 20 minutes and 2 laps were quite hard for the Latvian, who made some costly mistakes and got thrown back in the pack, eventually winding up in 14th position.

On Sunday, after coming out of the starting lane inside the pack of the first ten riders during the first final race, the athlete lost his speed halfway through and fell back a couple of positions. Jonass described his performance frankly : ” It was tough on Sunday – conditions were a lot warmer than on Saturday and the track got a lot bumpier. The first race went by well. Even though I made a few mistakes that made me drop down from 5th to 7th place, things went well overall.”

“In the second moto I got a good start again, but then ended up stalling the bike in one of the corners. It took a while to get going again. It’s a shame because this is definitely one of my favourite GPs and I know I have the speed to do well here,” he revealed afterwards. Indeed, the second MXGP race of the day brought highs and lows as Pauls was riding very well, at one point even being in the 4th place; however, Lommel was having none of his success – after getting stuck in one of the corners of the track the Latvian had to work his way up all over again, pushing his physical and mental abilities to the limit. Jonass finished 11th, a spot not satisfactory neither for the athlete nor his team and fans.

“Looking at the positives, my lap times were good and stayed swift right till the end. I need to work a little on my physical fitness as the weight of the 450 and the added speed around here takes a lot more from one than the MX2 bike. Overall, I am happy with how I rode and am now looking forward to the next round in Italy,” Jonass ended cheerfully, despite falling to the 10th spot in the championship overall standings.

In two weeks time, the elite of motocross will gather at Imola, Italy, for the 15th round of the season of 2019.

Written by Nikola Serge

Image by Juan Pablo Acevedo

TRUSTING THE PROCESS

Loket, one of the most scenic, yet dangerous tracks in the MXGP calendar, brought mediocre results for the Latvian motocross pilot Pauls Jonass, who finished 6-7 for a 6th place overall.

Saturday came with lots of struggle, as Pauls had a very unfortunate start, having to fight his way up from the 21st position. He quickly managed to pass most of the riders, and found himself inside the Top10 relatively early into the race. The Latvian finished the qualifying race being 9th just ahead of his teammate Arminas Jasikonis.

Sunday started off quite well for the young athlete. Pauls managed to place himself among the first eight riders during the first lap, and step up a position soon after. After a few more laps, Pauls had passed another rival and was running 6th behind his teammate; however, this time the Lithuanian turned out to be faster, and Jonass finished in the 6th place.

Second heat turned out quite uneventful for those on the Latvian’s camp – Pauls was just outside the Top10 after the gate dropped, but managed to gradually climb up the pack as the race went by. He managed to hang on to 7th position when the checkered flag came about, earning just enough points to place 6th in the GP overall classification.

The athlete later admitted: ” I guess I can say it was a decent GP for me; certainly not the worst, but also not the best. I earned a couple of good championship points, and sixth is a good overall result. Starts are so important here and I didn’t get the best of starts in either race; however, I felt good in the first race and managed to make a few passes and, yeah, sixth was a good result. My pace wasn’t quite what I needed in the second moto. I felt okay, but I didn’t want to push too hard and take risks. Riding here is very different on a 450cc, but I enjoyed the GP. There aren’t too many races to go now, so the focus is to keep working and try and improve my position in the championship.”

The next round of the FIM World Motocross Championship will be held in the dreadful sand of Lommel, Belgium, on August 4.

Written by Nikola Serge

Image by Juan Pablo Acevedo

ADVERTISING SPACE

The second round held on the exotic islands of Indonesia brought highs and lows as the Latvian racer Pauls Jonass flew through the weekend just as swiftly as he passed through that unfortunate banner…

After a week of goofing around with his team instead of opting to go on a luxurious trip to one of the nearby isles, Pauls felt well-rested and was ready to get the racing mode on. Saturday’s qualification kicked off well, Jonass being in the front of the pack and staying there the whole moto. The Latvian crossed the finish line in 4th place, a solid result to build on the following day.

On Sunday, the odds were seemingly in Jonass’ favour. After an almost-holeshot episode in the 1st moto, he quickly settled into the 2nd position and closely followed the race leader Gajser, never letting him out of the sight; however, an unlucky mistake cost him the whole race and, quite possibly, a podium. The Latvian’s motorcycle rear wheel slid on the slippery surface of the track, causing Pauls to lose control over his motorcycle and running into the advertisements placed in the corner of the track. He drove through the banners and tried to return to the track, but one of the banner had been caught up in the front wheel. Many valuable minutes were spent trying to remove it, and the young athlete rejoined the moto being dead last. When crossing the finish line, Pauls earned the 17th position. Unfortunately, the race committee decided to erase his points and opt for and DNF instead.

The 2nd race started off similarly, Pauls being in front of the pack. He once again tried to read and copy the lines from the front-runner and, by avoiding the mistake made in the previous race, came through in the 2nd position at the end of the race. Afterwards, the Latvian admitted that “there were many positives from this GP, but I know that I should have had an overall podium result. Great starts, good speed, a really strong second moto, just my mistake in the first race that undid a lot of good work from me and the team”. 

Jonass continued, saying: “It was my mistake that I went off the track, but bad luck that I got some old banners stuck in my rear wheel. The race had been going really well to that point. I got a great start and felt really comfortable in second. Thankfully, I was able to come back with a strong second place result in the final moto, which is a great way to finish these two GPs in Indonesia. Overall, I feel that I have made some good progress – I’ve started to put the pieces together. My fitness is good now, I’ve improved on my starts and I’m able to race at the front for the full moto. I’m really looking forward to the final races of the championship. I want to put it all together and do my best to get strong results from the final six GPs”.

The next MXGP round will e held in two weeks time, the paddock returning to the familiar circuits of Europe.

Written by Nikola Serge

Image by Juan Pablo Acevedo

ALL AROUND THE WORLD

Undoubtedly, one of the most exotic destinations included in the calendar of FIM FIM World Motocross Championship this year is the world’s largest island country Indonesia, hosting not one, but two rounds. Pauls managed to adjust to the change of the time zones and the humid conditions quite well, finishing 8-7 for a 7th place in the GP classification.

Saturday’s qualification kicked off badly for the Latvian, suffering from a fall in the second corner right after the gate dropped. Pauls Managed to get up, and, despite having hit his shoulder quite hard and being dead-last, decided to continue the race. He managed to catch up with the rest of the pack, fighting hard and well, his determination placing him in the 13th position when finishing the race.

Sunday brought even more humidity and heat, nothing unusual taking into account the climate zone the track in located in. After a decent start being in the middle of the pack, Pauls struggled to find the right rhythm and still felt the ache in his shoulder that carried over from the crash on Saturday. Trying to find the right lines, he ended up in the 8th place, earning a handful of points that eventually catapulted him into the 8th position in the championship overall standings.

Second moto, being mellow and quite uneventful except for the fall of the race leader Gajser in one of the first laps, was analogue to the previous race. The young athlete avoided any large missteps and placed himself in the Top7 of the fastest riders. The stability of Pauls racing proved that he can easily call himself a definite Top10 rider in the MXGP class; however, lots of work still needs to be done, especially regarding the starts.

“The crash on Saturday set the tune for the rest of the weekend as I struggled with tons of pain on both motos the following day. Aside from that, I think that the result is decent and we came through with at least a handful of points and managed to jump to the No.8 spot in the overall standings. Hopefully, the shoulder will heal up during the week so that we can show what I’m actually capable of in these humid conditions,” said the athlete.

The next venue for the MXGP championship will be Semarang, another Indonesian location which will surely bring tons of exciting racing and ethnic vibes in the paddock.

Written by Nikola Serge

Image by Juan Pablo Acevedo

BEHIND THE WIND TURBINE

Despite June 22 and 23 being a weekend full of celebrations due to summer solstice, for the Latvia motocross racer Pauls Jonass this meant once again lining up for the 10th round of FIM World Motocross Championship, which happened in Teutschenthal, Germany.

During the qualification race Pauls earned 8th place after leading a solid, steady moto. Despite not being able to tackle the Top5, the athlete was satisfied with his performance in the sneaky track. It is worth noting that after the impressive crash that Pauls had earlier during the free practice caused no real damage. The self-proclaimed freestyle rider admitted afterwards that he had only hit his tight a little, but had not sustained any other injuries.

On Sunday during the 1st moto it was visible that a long and strenuous workday was ahead of the racers. After a successful start, Pauls left the holeshot line being 6th. Unfortunately, like in so many previous races, the young athlete got arm pump as the clock was closing to the 10 minute mark, which resulted in Jonass having to slow down the pace he had uptaken. Pauls finished in the 10th place, the position being adequate for the racing performance he had shown during the race without any huge mistakes.

The start of the 2nd race as well as the race itself was one of the best runs of Jonass’ career in the MXGP class. Seconds after crossing the starting gate, Pauls managed to sit behind the race leader Tim Gajser and not let him too far out of his sight, being able to follow the Slovenian closely and pick up the better ruts. The Latvian did not lose his rhythm and finished strong, managing to come out of the MXGP of Germany with a 4th overall, losing only 1 point to the 3rd place.

“I think that we were able to get through two solid motos. I am especially delighted about the second race, during which I was fit enough to keep close to the leader and miss out on any silly mistakes. It is a pity that I was not able to pick up that 1 point which would have put me on the podium: however, there is a chance that the sight of me being closer to the front of the pack becomes more and more relevant,” says the Latvian. 

After a cheerful weekend like this, there is a bit of time to dwell on the positive memories. In two weeks time, the elite of motocross will pack their bags and sail to the exotic Indonesia for the 11th and 12th round of the MXGP.

Written by Nikola Serge

Image by Juan Pablo Acevedo

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