After nearing the top ten in the first of three races at Trentino this week, Shaun rode the SS24 KTM MXGP #24 to 24th place for the second stint in Italy.
A broken wheel scuppered hopes of a top-twelve classification in the strongest and most competitive MXGP field of recent years at the Grand Prix of Trentino last weekend but the SS24 KTM MXGP crew had another crack at the hard-packed Pietramurata racetrack on Wednesday.
The continuing limitations of the Coronavirus pandemic meant that MXGP crowded into the tight but beautifully set venue north of Lake Garda for a Sunday-Wednesday-Sunday three-round grab of the world championship to put races 14, 15 and 16 into the books.
The terrain was rutty and loose in sections but mainly hard and slick. The track varied very little for Wednesday’s Grand Prix of Pietramurata compared to the outing two days previously and race starts and first lap cunning would be keys to prime positioning.
Feeling better with his KTM 450 SX-F set-up and his hand injury, Shaun set about finding a decent flow through Timed Practice but still struggled to hammer the flat corners. He marked the 27th best lap-time and then entered the tombola of the tight ‘left-right’ first corners for the moto starts. Two falls would cause a first moto DNF and the second moto was a slog from the outer regions of the pack to finish 20th for a solitary point.
“In the first race I really struggled with my riding, the set-up, the track. I couldn’t get going. My starts were way-better last Sunday and I could thread through and stay out of trouble twice but that didn’t really happen today: I was in trouble twice!” he said.
“It seems to swing one way or the other in MXGP. Tony Cairoli went from 28th on Sunday to 1st today. It feels likes a lottery each week. I can only blame myself because if I want better starts I need a better gate position and that means a better qualification. It’s a knock-on effect but it’s hard to push any harder for one manic lap. In a place like Riola [Sardinia] – where I felt amazing, could qualify 6th and get two good starts then I can deliver – that’s how it should go. So, no luck today. I checked the time sheets after the second moto and I could have been running just outside the top ten with my lap-times but I was just situated thirty seconds behind! It’s hard to take on the chin and I’m already bored of this track but we’ll give it our best shot next Sunday.”
The Grand Prix of Garda will bring the triple to a close this Sunday and then MXGP moves to Mantova to wrap 2021 with another ‘double’.
Photo thanks to Ray Archer