Grands Prix in the USA and Holland were work-in-progress steps for Shaun as the Wilvo Yamaha team refine the sweet spot of the set-up on the 2018 YZ450F with a view towards next season…

Villars sous Ecot will host the Grand Prix of Pays de Montbeliard this weekend for what is the nineteenth and final fixture of the 2017 MXGP. The French curtain-dropper see Shaun in action for just the third time since breaking his hand and then left arm at the Grand Prix of Lombardia in Italy in June. The team have forged ahead with evolution of the 2018 YZ450F with a view towards next year’s racing term and it has meant a couple of uneasy appearances at the USGP and the Dutch rounds in the last two weeks for #24.

The Scot is still looking for firm top ten potential as he eyes not only his own race speed but also the feeling on the Yamaha and is running out of top-level race starts to get comfortable heading into a break and then the winter build-up for an early 2018 launch at the Grand Prix of Argentina.

“Results-wise the last two Grands Prix have not been good enough,” he admits. “It is a combination of small factors – and a crash in the US didn’t help – but I don’t want to start sifting through excuses. I will say that we are working hard on the bike and with KYB to help me find something I feel comfortable and quick with: this is the key to picking up a bit of speed with the lap-times. I have made a few mistakes and thought I’d be higher up the order in the sand last weekend in Assen. It was a disappointing weekend and I felt sorry for the team after two rough meetings and with also Arnaud [Tonus] being out.”

The hillside hard-pack of Villars entertained the FIM World Championship in 2015 and is now back on the calendar and facing a grim weather forecast this weekend. “The aim is to find some feeling, some speed and look for some race finishes that give us some positive vibes before we look to testing for 2018,” the Indonesian Grand Prix winner says. “This is the kind of process we would have been going through much earlier if it wasn’t for the injury. We are always trying to do the best that we can, so it means going through the checklist, making the right calls on where we want to go with the bike and me getting on the gas as hard as possible. We cannot ask for much more at this stage.”

Photo by Ray Archer