Sixth place overall and another ‘deadly’ first lap in the second moto where he worked up from mid-pack to second place were the hallmarks of a sweltering Thai Grand Prix for Shaun who also now lies sixth in the MXGP world championship standings.
A video review of the second round of eighteen in MXGP this year and undoubtedly one of the hottest and hardest races of the season will have ‘24’ watching between fingers at his race starts at Suphan Buri. Shaun didn’t enjoy a decent launch in either of the two thirty-five minute and two lap sprints in temperatures nearing forty degrees and on a track that was hard, deeply rutted and featured line choices but was also unforgiving. “I think those were the worse starts of my life, I was closed-out so badly,” the British Champion reflected. “In the second moto I went on the inside and then round the outside and made a lot of positions; obviously it is not ideal to have bad starts but I made a good job of it.”
The first moto was not his best. Shaun finished ninth and benefitted from technical problems that forced Ben Townley and Max Nagl out of the running. “I was slightly disappointed with first race,” he evaluated. “I was a different rider in second with different and better lines and felt supple on the bike.”
Running second but eventually with no answer to the speed of Nagl and Jeremy Van Horebeek Shaun kept consistent and safe to cross the line in sixth. “What I did is what I could do,” he explained. “It was my pace and I didn’t want to take risks and make mistakes. There had already been a lot of crashes. The track was my ‘type of going’ but my set-up didn’t feel amazing. We have a bit of time now before the British Championship opener at Lyng and then the next Grand Prix in Holland.”
“I felt the heat more in the second moto than the first, more fatigued but I’m older and know how to cope with it. It was bloody hard work but I knew I could do the laps.”
Asked to evaluate the second GP in a week and before a two-week gap before the Grand Prix of Europe at Valkenswaard Shaun said: “It was another top six today, that was the goal, even if I was three points shy of what I was looking for. I’m only a few points off fifth in the championship and we’re starting to form a little gap over the others behind. If I can breakaway a bit then great. The team are happy and that’s important also.”
“Overall the vibe has been quite good here but there has also been controversy with heat, track and the general dust bowl; there has to be better tracks than this to come to. Let’s see what the future holds in the next few weeks.”