Jo Shimoda is unbeaten as a CRF250R competitor – his debut in 'red' was memorable for all involved and helped establish some valuable momentum as 2023 Monster Energy Supercross beckons. Shimoda raced in the SX2 class inside of Paris' La Défense Arena and was a clear favorite, as only Tom Vialle could boast similar accolades, and delivered. Poor starts in two of the six mains stopped him from achieving perfection – that is one of two negatives to raise.
The other is mentioned by Shimoda towards the end of this exclusive chat: he forced moves that were not there whenever he made poor starts and could have progressed further had he implemented patience. The short main events prompted that reaction, as he had just six minutes to jump from last to first. There is more insight in this interview, which was first published as a post-race podcast and has been transcribed for your pleasure.
Vital MX: A near-perfect debut on the Honda! You were the best rider in SX2 all weekend. Honestly, you could have won every race. A happy way to start this new chapter of your career.
Jo Shimoda: For sure! I am stoked on how everything is progressing. Looking back at the race now, there is a thing that I need to work on. Honestly, I am happy with my pace. I think that the comfort was there all weekend. I wanted to win all of them, for sure, but you kind of need to be perfect on every single gate drop with only five minutes of racing. I am happy.
Some of your starts were really good, but some were really bad. What was the difference? Was it reaction time or technique? Can you pinpoint something that you did differently?
Only on the one that I messed up really bad! The second bad start was… Someone crashed into me from the inside. I ran into his back wheel and was stuck. I mean, if I was a few meters in front of him then that would not have happened. There is nothing big that I have to change. It is more like doing it the proper way every single time. Consistency, yeah.
Did you learn anything new about the bike this weekend? It feels a little bit different when you come to a race, just because you push that little extra.
Yeah. I mean, I could tell you a lot of different things! At the end of the day, it is just nice to get this pre-season race under my belt and my first race with Honda. There are a lot of new things that I went through this weekend. It is not just one or two things – it is a lot. I can tell you that I have to work on some stuff to get ready for [Monster Energy] Supercross, for sure, but hopefully I can do some great things there.
This does take a massive toll on you. There is a lot of travel involved, but you see the value in coming here to shake out the cobwebs and learn?
Exactly. I guess it is a little bit of an advantage, but the way that they built this track is different too. There are some areas where you can take stuff away from today. The shape of the jumps in the rhythm section is different, for instance, and so is the starting gate. It is not all the same. We will just have to see!
What is the number one thing that you need to work on leaving here? Is it suspension, engine or chassis? What is it that is at the front of your mind?
If I can work on some more consistency on the start… I knew that it was only five minutes of racing, so whenever I started behind someone then I rushed to pass. I feel like I made some dumb decisions. I could pass in the bowl turn after the rhythm section, for sure, but I took chances in ninety-degree corners and missed. That sort of stuff. I need to make smarter decisions. I just need to be calm in my mind!