Career highlights:2016 EMX 250 Champion 2019, MX2 Vice Motocross World Champion
Thomas Kjer Olsen
The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider secured his maiden 450cc race win with victory at round two of the Internazionali d’Italia series in Alghero, Sardinia, at the weekend, finishing ahead of many of his MXGP rivals.
Following an impressive runner-up finish in the day’s opening MX1 moto, Kjer Olsen then charged to a stunning victory in the mixed-capacity Supercampione race, claiming his first international win on FC 450 machinery.
Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the sandy hillside venue provided him with further races to sharpen his skills while competing on another rough and technical circuit ahead of the MXGP World Championship start in May.
Enjoying a great start in the day’s MX1 moto, a confident Kjer Olsen quickly made a number of passes to move into fourth place during the opening lap. As the race unfolded, the Dane charged past Alessandro Lupino (KTM) on lap five to secure third before moving into second just a few laps later.
While giving chase to the race leader, Kjer Olsen momentarily stalled his FC 450 machine and then opted to settle for a safe, yet well-earned, runner-up finish.
With the track at its roughest, Kjer Olsen was undoubtedly at his best in the Supercampione moto. Ending lap one in sixth place, the 23-year-old then picked off his rivals as he worked on reeling in the race leader, Romain Febvre (Kawasaki).
With Kjer Olsen displaying incredible speed around the Alghero circuit, he was soon onto the back wheel of Febvre and made the crucial pass for the lead on lap 13. Maintaining his strong pace for the rest of the moto he claimed an impressive first-ever 450cc race win.
Following a hugely positive time in Sardinia, Kjer Olsen will now return to his Belgian base and make his final preparations ahead of the 2021 MXGP World Championship.
Thomas Kjer Olsen: “It feels amazing but also a little unexpected to have won the Supercampione race today. After the first race I knew my speed was good, I just made a few mistakes and for the second moto I knew I had to clean those up. My start in the second race wasn’t the best but I felt great on the bike.
"We have such a good set up with the bike that it allows me to ride freely and with a lot of confidence. I was able to push to the end and enjoyed leading laps and taking the win. We learned a lot today. These races are important to test settings in a racing environment and to learn how my competitors race too, so this trip to Sardinia has been really productive. We now head back to Belgium and look ahead to the MXGP season".
Bike:Husqvarna FC 450
Discipline:FIM MXGP World Championship
Mechanic:Paul Conway / Luca Bonifacio
Career highlights:5x Lithuanian Champion
The good news filtering through from the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna camp is that Arminas Jasikonis’ recovery following his big crash at Mantova is continuing and he’s aiming to be back in the saddle next season.
The 23-year-old Lithuanian sustained a serious head injury in the crash and was placed in a medical coma for two-and-a-half days but the kind of fighting spirit needed to race motocross is serving him well and his Team Manager Antti Pyrhonen has described his recovery as "unbelievable".
"AJ is basically recovering really well," said Pyrhonen. “It was a very serious accident and he was in a severe condition. He had a heavy impact to the head [but] he could leave the hospital after a week and then he could travel back to Lithuania and he didn’t need to go back to hospital or any recovery centre.
"He moved back home and was living with his girlfriend and doing some physical training and he can now drive his car."
Jasikonis is keen to get back on a bike but knows, for now at least, that he needs to be patient.
"There are days when it’s worse, there are days when it’s better," he said. "I still feel shoulder pain but I’ve been working on that and two weeks ago I started driving a car. Everything happens gradually, I’m on my way forward but you can’t overdo it."
There’s a lot of desire for me but I can’t do it all at once because I don’t know how the brain will accept it. I started running, the balance is good.
"In Finland, the medical profession will look at how far I have moved forward. The plan is to come back but I can’t promise it. I’d like to be back in half-a-year."