Shaun rode to his second victory inside a week by taking overall honours at the Valence International today. After owning the fixture at Hawkstone Park in the UK to open his 2016 racing calendar last Sunday, Shaun circulated a one-liney and muddy layout in central France to take 3-2-2 in the three motos and climb the top of the podium once more.
The Wilvo Virus Performance KTM rider headed to Valence for more pre-season ‘prep’ and with only two weeks until the opening Grand Prix of the FIM MXGP World Championship in Qatar. Even though the weather forecast was ominous for the meeting that boasted another entry list littered with Grand Prix talent the venue held up well under changeable skies and the wintery climate. Shaun and fiancée Rachel suffered some drama on the trip from their Belgian base when their camper came alight and they had to pull over, semi-abandon the vehicle (that was towed back to the team’s HQ) and then continued south across the border in one of the team’s support vans.
“What a weekend we had,” Shaun recounts. “We packed up the camper and headed to the race only to discover when we were near Luxembourg that there were flames flicking up from the driver’s footwell! We had to call the fire brigade and had it towed back while we were able to carry on to Valence. It was a full night shift to drive there and then we had to sleep in the van before warm-up on Saturday.”
Slightly singed but undaunted Shaun clocked the fastest and then the third quickest lap-time in the two practice sessions for Sunday’s programme. “There had been rain but the track was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, the sun was out and I felt good, setting the fastest time. In the second session I was third but only something like 0.3 of a second from first.”
Another string of decent performances and form set the base for his result, even if the Superfinal (combining MXGP and MX2 classes) contained a costly mistake for the 27 year old.
“My speed was obviously there after practice,” he says. “I had a good start in the first moto and was fourth or fifth but by the time I was up to third it was already too late to catch [Kevin] Strijbos and [Clement] Desalle. I got a better start in the second race and almost had the holeshot but Desalle went wide and slingshot around the first corner. He basically led from start-to-finish, I tried a few moves to pass him but couldn’t make it happen and took a solid second.”
“The Superfinal was quite exciting,” he goes on. “I got the holeshot and Desalle was hounding me. The track was quite one-line but not too bad, it was alright for racing. He then over-jumped quite badly and it seems like he’s broken his arm. Townley was pressurising me for a while but then – I think – Jeffrey [Herlings] took him out and I made a mistake on the very last lap going to the finish that let him beat me; I wasn’t too happy with that but to take my second overall win in the MX2 class was good.”
“It was another solid weekend all-round and it was the last International at Valence so it was nice to mark that with the right result,” the Scot summarised.
Shaun will now make his final run-down towards the launch of MXGP this week (after resolving the camper issue) and with a last competitive appearance – again in France – at the LaCapelle Marival International.