Thoughts on France: this was the verdict Shaun took away from an odd Grand Prix of Portugal where the Scot was hard-pushed to explain a 14th position overall.

“I struggled in warm-up and Timed Practice with my speed and I’m still not really sure why. I felt good physical, was focused and good on the bike and that I was riding well but the lap-time wasn’t there. I didn’t gel with the track.”

The sixth round of eighteen in MXGP was something of a mystery to the RFX KTM rider who had his work cut out to post two 13th positions around the fast and flowing circuit of Agueda for the Grand Prix of Portugal. Shaun had designs on the mid-top ten around a course that can either be very hard-packed and quick, or technical and rutty. Last weekend fell somewhere in the middle with evening showers helping to soften the orange dirt in places.

SS24 was mainly hamstrung by his starts; one of the main factors that dented his top ten ambitions after results of 8-10-9-8-14 (with a DNF technical problem) this year so far.

“I wasn’t too lucky on the first and second turns in both races with riders around me or in front crashing or what-not,” he said. “So to be mid-pack on both first laps was not ideal. I battled away and passed a few guys and slogged it out. I didn’t have the speed to get in the top ten which is unusual. 13-13 is where it was at today and I felt like I had to fight hard with [Arminas] Jasikonis and [Jeremy] Van Horebeek all day.”

“I can’t put my finger on why,” he added. “What I did today clearly wasn’t enough. We definitely have work to do on the starts. It almost goes without saying that a good start helps so much with an easier race in MXGP these days.”

Shaun won’t have to wait long to turn around his MXGP fortunes with the third Grand Prix in a row taking place on the atmospheric hillside circuit of St Jean D’Angely this weekend. The hard-pack and narrow layout means positive starts with his KTM 450 SX-F will be a ‘must’.

“I’ll write this weekend off and do what I normally do: get home, train hard, work on the starts and come back next week in France and hope that a recipe for a good result is there.”

The British Championship leader is still the top rider from the UK in the FIM World Championship standings and occupies 11th place in the table.

Photo by Ray Archer (kind thanks)