We caught up with Shaun on his flight to New York, experiences with naked cowgirls and the first ride on the factory 2016 450SX-F from Red Bull KTM at Unadilla on press day.

So, how was the trip?

Great! We left Brussels early Tuesday morning. So there wasn’t much time to sit down and think about Lommel really. I had to get organised and packed and we had an early start from my place in Overpelt with D&D services to get to the airport. The flight was with Delta and on a new plane so I watched a couple of movies. Once we got to New York then Jason [Dyce, friend and personal sponsor from Dyce Carriers] had booked us a hotel right in Times Square –well, about two blocks away – so we were in the thick of it. We had a day in Manhattan and did the touristy stuff like get to the top of the Empire State building. The highlight for me was probably the ferry trip to Staten Island past the Statue of Liberty. We also saw the Ground Zero waterfalls. A funny moment was watching this naked cowgirl walking around Times Square; it was quite a sight as you can imagine.

Then onto Unadilla. What were your first thoughts upon getting there?

It was a couple of hours in the car but you’re on a road called the ‘8’ and you come over a crest and into a landscape of total countryside. The track then just creeps up on you. There are something like 1100 amateurs arriving to race on Friday and then on another track in the same valley on Sunday. It felt busy but my first impression was just how amazingly the track had been prepared. The soil had been worked to perfection; ripped and watered eight-ten times. The jumps were smaller than I expected. The lap-time was over two minutes, which was nice.

 

So then you had to prep the factory 450 that had been provided for you for the press day ride. What happened?

Well, the press day outing was a twenty-minute session followed by a twenty minute break and then another twenty minute session. It was quite funny – and not ideal – but I was given special race shirts for this weekend and they had been printed with ‘247’ instead of ‘274’ so I hope the correct ones come through in time! The bike feels good so far. We made a couple of small tweaks but I have a good feeling. It feels much lighter than my 2015 model back home. The engine feels so smooth. We had packed up three Ogio 9800 kit bags with my kit so helmets, boots, goggles etc and then another with some tools, a special seat, stickers and my own hand guards and that’s about it. The bike was prepared really nicely for us. We said hello to a few people but we’ll be back at the circuit on Friday for technical control, to check the track again and do a few small things like talk to press and buy my ‘hats off’ system which is something the riders have to run here and it basically fits inside your helmet and expands the liner if the medical crew need to get your lid off in case of an accident. Then it will be a case of chilling a little bit and getting in the zone for Saturday.