Factory material, recovering from illness, another level of attention after winning the previous Grand Prix and shining in the USA: it was a hectic weekend for Shaun at Mantova for the Grand Prix of Lombardia but the Scot came through the shallow sand on the 2016 450SX-F with a pleasing fourth position overall.
The highlight was a strong ride to head a five rider group in the second moto and finish third. The added bonus? Fifth position in the FIM MXGP World Championship standings with fifteen rounds of eighteen now in the book. If Shaun can secure twenty-five points at Assen next weekend for the Dutch appointment on the dwindling schedule then he will move into a career-best fourth in the premier class.
Here the 27 year old explains another day from what has been a standout season so far.
“There has been a lot going on and I’ve had a busy three weeks. In some ways you could say “he’s done too much” but I don’t regret it. I had the experience of Unadilla and then had the opportunity of the factory bike and we didn’t want to just turn up and ride it. The factory has given me everything possible to come here and do a good job and I totally respect them for that and it’s why they are one of the best teams in the paddock because they really do support their riders. Maybe the schedule has all taken its toll a little bit because I tested, then switched back to the ’15 bike for a race in Belgium then rode again this week. I did one day and wanted to do two but I felt rough.”
“Coming into this week the track looked nice and quite technical. There was a lot of hype going on and a lot of pictures being taken and I could sense the pressure. If I hadn’t have stalled the bike on Saturday then it would have been an easy fifth, instead I got flustered and started riding crap. It hit me a bit Saturday night. I had to take a step back, get fully into my routine and make a fresh start on Sunday. I was quite happy with fifth in the first race, considering the way I was feeling at the end of the moto…but looking back: two laps! Arghh! It was painful. That moto was tough and I knew I would have to ground out another one. Everyone has been so supportive this weekend and my brother was here and talking about having a ‘box of matches’ and making sure you had enough to strike another one at the end – some sort of cycling story he’d read – and I think I just about got away with it today. I just managed to hold on in that second moto for third; I just had enough matches to burn and I’m really pumped with third.”
“Fourth overall, fifth in the championship and manufacturer’s points for KTM: I’m delighted. There is already talk of what we can do to improve this week and everyone’s motivated. We are already planning until the end of the year and that gives me the confidence for the next six weeks knowing I have this entourage of people around me working in the best possible way forwards.”
Photo by Ray Archer