MXA INTERVIEW: JO SHIMODA THE SILENT UNDERDOG

MXA INTERVIEW: JO SHIMODA THE SILENT UNDERDOG

With an impressive fourth overall at Thunder Valley, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda is now ranked seventh in the 250 Motocross series. While Jo’s success may catch some off guard, he did finish on the podium last year at the Fox Raceway series finale and is also coming off a Supercross win earlier this year. It’s good to see things coming together for the likable rider from Japan. While Shimoda may have been left without a ride for a time after Geico Honda closed shop, Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit was quick to pick him up and we expect him to stick with Pro Circuit for 2022.

By Jim Kimball

STARTING OFF WITH SUPERCROSS, HOW WAS IT WINNING YOUR FIRST RACE EARLIER THIS YEAR? “We started slowly into the season. First, we were looking for a top five and once we got that down a couple of times, we stepped up to a top three podium spot. I was able to do that two times before winning. After I got on the podium, it gave me good confidence. When I won that race, it was not like I was focused on winning it, I was just ready to do it at that point. My speed had been okay. Supercross was very technical, but the main thing for me was finally getting a holeshot. I decided once “you are in the front; you are not making any mistakes”; I knew I could do it and I finally did it. It was an amazing moment.”    

Jo Shimoda 2021_SaltLakeCity1_Supercross-28Jo Shimoda earned his first 250 Supercross win this year and the penultimate round in Salt Lake City after holding off charges from Michael Mosiman, Jett Lawrence and Colt Nichols.

“YOU ARE IN THE FRONT; YOU ARE NOT MAKING ANY MISTAKES”

YOU SIGNED RELATIVELY LATE WITH THE TEAM, HOW WAS IT ADAPTING TO THE NEW BIKE AND COMPANY? At first, I was not very comfortable, and not very loose with the bike. I didn’t know much about the team, nor much about the Kawasaki. I actually got my bike one and a half months before the race, so I only got to ride around six weeks. It was a decent amount of time on the bike, but it was the shortest preparation that I ever did throughout all my racing; still, I think it worked out okay. I got used to the bike after a while. The bike is good anyways, and the team is awesome, so it did not take too much time to figure what is different and good on the bike.

Jo Shimoda 2021_SaltLakeCity1_Supercross-28Jo Shimoda on the podium after wining in Salt Lake City. 

HOW WAS IT FOR THE TEAM DISSECTING THE BRAND NEW 2021 KX 250 AND GETTING IT RACE READY? My bike was actually set up for Ivan Tedesco. He had the same weight and height as me, so I had a good base. But still when you want to set up the bike well, you want to take your time, but the team figured it out really quick. I could almost ride at 100 percent after two weeks, and after those two weeks, only small things were changed. But even right now, I am still changing the set up, so it is never like you ever get a perfect bike, but it was good enough to win and compete up front with the rest of the 250 class.

Jo Shimoda 2021 Salt Lake City Supercross 2-3623Jo Shimoda on the line at the Supercross season finale in Salt Lake City, one week after winning his first 250 Main Event.

I KNOW YOU HAVE WORKED WITH SOME TRAINERS IN THE PAST. WHO ARE YOU WORKING WITH NOW? I went back to working with Yannig Kervella again.  Last year, I was working with Jeff Ward for the beginning of the season, and we switched to Jay Whipple, but something was just not right. We had a talk one day and it just did not feel right, so I went back to my old trainer Yannig. It seems right now that I am on a solid program every day and honestly, I have not missed one or two days through the off-season, so I am pretty ready for the rest of this outdoor season.  

HOW HAS 2021 BEEN TREATING YOU? I finished third in the Supercross championship which is not bad, but still I had ups and downs, struggling in the whoops and some of the jumps. I could not even do some because I was struggling in the corners before them. But I feel like I have a good ability to stay calm at the races, so I am going to use that as my strongest point. I want to improve on the starts and whatever else I am missing right now. I believe I can make changes this year, even for now, just keep improving, and never stop improving.

Jo is known for being quite in the races, being extremely consistent with not many taking notice.

YOU ARE GOOD AT BOTH SUPERCROSS AND OUTDOORS. DO YOU FAVOR ONE OVER THE OTHER? My favorite is Supercross, but I do believe that I have the skill to ride both well. With the experience now, I think I can fight for the front if I do it right.

NOW THAT WE’RE TWO ROUNDS INTO THE 2021 PRO MOTOCROSS SEASON, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? I have had bad starts and a couple of crashes. But I feel that I pretty much have the pace; I just need to get up front. I just need to get a top five start, and I’ll be fine. I am not worried about anything else. 

Jo and the rest of the team have been struggling to get out front at the beginning of the races.

IT APPEARS LIKE YOU AND YOUR TEAMMATES HAVE ALL STRUGGLED WITH STARTS. Yes, maybe we can improve the bike some, but I believe that the bike is good enough to get a holeshot with. 

YOU HAVE A ONE YEAR CONTRACT WITH THE MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI PRO CIRCUIT TEAM, BUT BELIEVE YOU ARE BEING PURSUED BY SEVERAL TEAMS FOR 2022. WHAT CAN YOU SAY? All I want to say is that the team that I am on now cares a lot, and we all want to win. Other than that; no comment.

We’re looking forward to see how Jo continues to improve during outdoors this year.

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