Shaun makes his return to the British Championship this weekend for the first time in two years and on the back of a very decent 8th place finish in Argentina to launch 2019 MXGP
There were serious faces and stroked chins in the small RFX KTM pit complex at Neuquen on Saturday afternoon for the Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina. Shaun had just obtained a 15th place finish in the first FIM World Championship Qualification Heat of the year around the loose top-soil of the rapid race circuit close to the Chilean border.
“We don’t practice on anything similar and there is nothing really close to that track we’d use in terms of testing,” the Scot reflected this week. “A lot of guys opted for an Enduro-type spec on the bike looking for traction and I didn’t feel like risking my bollocks on Saturday. 15th is not what we were looking for but we did some homework Saturday night and changed the bike a little bit for Sunday and felt like we made some good improvements.”
The first round of nineteen took place in the spectacularly scenic venue surrounded by typically animated fans and saw Shaun return to GP competition with KTM 450 SX-F technology for the first time since 2016. The 30 year old entered the meeting only two weeks after sustaining a shoulder injury at the Hawkstone Park International but he was able to rally to a scorecard of 11-9 to classify 8th overall and meet his goal of a top ten result to begin a long racing calendar.
“All things considered I have to very happy,” he said. “Eighth overall was a result I hoped we could make happen. Top ten overall was the goal and we squeezed in there. It was nice to see that Saturday isn’t always the absolute key to the weekend. I just seemed to struggle to push right to the edge on that track. It seems to be getting harder and harder every year and less developed. It eventually gets rough and technical but you still need to go so fast on it because there are no ruts or berms: it’s kinda like Speedway!”
“The first moto was workmanlike and it was a shame not to get [Jeremy] Seewer on the last lap for 10th,” he adds. “I improved my start in the second moto and it was a different story. I was pretty happy with my speed but I think some of the problems in the last few weeks and having to go easer on my training showed in the last ten minutes as [Clement] Desalle, [Arminas] Jasikonis and [Gautier] Paulin got me. I couldn’t keep up with the British battle with Tommy [Searle] and Max [Anstie] which was a shame. On the whole I was happy, and so were the team. I enjoyed the bike. We’ll take those points and work again towards the British Championship this weekend and some more ‘normal’ tracks coming up.”
Shaun is supported by Leatt Brace, Scott Sports, Fly Racing, Gaerne, Bell Helmets and Dyce Carriers. The 2019 Maxxis British Championship begins in the sand of FatCat near Doncaster this weekend.
Photo from Neuquen thanks to Ray Archer