Solid points and a better feeling: A return to Maggiora for round three of 2021 MXGP pays-up as Shaun finishes 14th.
SS24 KTM MXGP moved south through the week to arrive at Maggiora Park and one of the authentic meccas for Italian motocross. The famous hillside circuit had been closed since 2016 and the Motocross of Nations and in the wake of staging Grands Prix in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The second re-awakening of Maggiora allowed MXGP to circulate the steep hills once more although the second race threw up wet and muddy conditions due to a brief but heavy thunderstorm.
Shaun pushed his KTM 450 SX-F to the 21st fastest lap-time in Timed Practice – despite some insecurity over a weak shoulder – allowing the same pick in the gate for the two motos. The skies remained grey but dry for race one and although Shaun didn’t make a bright start, he quickly established a strong rhythm through clever and effective line choice. He fought up to 13th and was closing on the back of factory Kawasaki rider Ivo Monticelli in the last two laps until his rear brake faded and he could do nothing about the two pursuing Yamahas. He crossed the finish line in 15th.
For the second moto the Scot was determined to make a better launch but the moto was complicated by the short bout of torrential rain that flooded Maggiora. The terrain was rougher, slicker and slower but also churned a high volume of roost and muck that didn’t bode well for #24 who was again buried in the pack around the first turn. Shaun’s experience and acumen helped him move through the gaggle to again be around the top fifteen. He was penalised when his goggle tear-strip ran out and he had to use the “Goggle Lane’ for a spare pair; the brief stoppage meant he could do nothing about Kevin Strijbos in 13th ahead of him.
Shaun’s collection of 6 and 7 points for the day is his best so far this season and in what is only his fifth Grand Prix since the end of 2019.
“At the moment the top fifteen is what we are aiming for, so 15-14 was pretty solid and I know – and have to be patient – that this is a process of getting back to where we really want to be,” he said. “Even though we were 14th today overall you always want a bit more and I felt I could have had a 12th in the first race, and I really enjoyed it. The second one should have been more to my liking but I cannot get a start at the moment and that’s what you need when it’s wet. I didn’t put myself in a great position and had to come in the goggle lane. Many things happened during a short period of time today! I probably could have been better in qualifying this morning and an extra five places might have helped the starts a bit more. We know we have to work on that for the next rounds and keep ploughing on.”
After the displacement of the Grand Prix of Latvia, MXGP now pauses for a week and before four successive rounds in the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Belgium and then the trip to Kegums in eastern Europe.
Photo courtesy of Ray Archer