With two races left in the season, much of the focus has been on the battle for the red plate between Jett Lawrence and Justin Cooper. A dominating performance by the Australian shifted the red plate to the Team Honda HRC rider, despite a Moto 1 holeshot effort by the Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing competitor.
But a solid 2-3 fight for Japan’s Jo Shimoda earned him his second podium of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season at Ironman Raceway.
It’s still a second but an improvement,” said the No. 30 rider. “Thank you to the team, and fans at the podium was amazing. I have so much motivation for the last two rounds. Let’s keep pushing.”
Throughout the grueling 90° plus heat, Shimoda never left the top five. After starting fifth in the first moto, he battled up to a second place finish, 8.320 seconds behind Lawrence. It gave him the confidence he needed going into Moto 2.
“The starts helped definitely,” Shimoda shared. “That’s my goal just to do the race like that. Get up in front and fight as much as possible. Today was a good day for me because from the qualifier, I was feeling good. Second in Q1 and fourth in Q2 was better than usual. I was going up to the gate more confident.”
Right out of the gate for Moto 2, Shimoda grabbed his first career MX holeshot and led the first lap before Lawrence passed him coming back around the starting gate. RJ Hampshire, who finished 13th in Moto 1, was able to battle with Shimoda after a better start the second time around. Ultimately, Hampshire took second place when the checkered flag flew but not without Shimoda being just a few seconds behind to keep him honest.
“My preparation was better,” said the 19-year old. “I know what to expect, and we train hard every day. Mentally and physically, I was not quite as ready as this year, so just having the races last year helped me a lot to prepare for this year. Just getting as much experience (as I can). Learning each race, and the second time around, you know the track. Some parts, you have an idea. For example with the rollers, it was faster to jump two instead of rolling over each one. Those kinds of things help me as the season goes.
“I’m just happy I made the improvements on the bike and myself. I just want to keep going this way.”
Shimoda’s other podium came at The Wick 338 with a 3-4 finish. It was also behind a 1-1 sweep of the other Australian, Hunter Lawrence. Shimoda still sits sixth in the points stands, and cuts 12 points off the gap between him and fifth place runner Hampshire. With two races left, there’s plenty of time for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider to sneak into the top five in championship standings before the season is through.
The next race for the 250 class comes next Saturday in California at Fox Raceway. Live coverage with the first motos begins on MAVTV Motorsports Network, beginning at 1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET. Coverage of the second motos will be showcased via tape delay on NBC Sports Network at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET. All-day live stream is available on Peacock TV, beginning with qualifying at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET. For tickets, visit the Pro Motocross website for more information.