Interview/Photos by Casey Davis | @air_d617
The American motocross dream is one that many from all over the world have pursued. Jo Shimoda is a young rider from Japan who is looking to rise to the professional ranks and be one of the few Japanese racers to achieve success in America. He's been making waves in the amateur ranks, and the Amsoil/Factory Connection/Honda took notice. Shimoda has been racing with the team all year and is now riding a full sized 250 four-stroke. With Monster Energy Cup just a week away, Shimoda was out riding Supercross at Milestone and we checked in with him about how his season with the new team is going so far.
We're out here at the Milestone Supercross track, how is the preparation going right now for the 2017 Monster Energy Cup?
I've been riding pretty good since I started on the Supercross track. I haven't crashed at all. Two years ago, when I raced Monster Cup, I got a last place start in both motos and I still managed fourth. This year, I want to go there, get a good start, and I want to win.
How long have you been practicing on the Supercross track now?
Probably a month or more.
Do you feel a big difference in how you're riding this year compared to last year?
Yeah, the 250F makes everything a lot easier. It doesn't bog before the lip or anything like that. It's way easier.
What do you prefer to ride, Supercross or motocross?
For fun, I'd say Supercross for sure. It's more fun than a motocross track. For training though, it's pretty difficult. You have to keep focused for the full lap. There aren't really any jumps that you can relax on. This track at Milestone is pretty easy, but it's usually pretty hard. Supercross is more difficult to go fast on and keep your pace up.
Is it more fun because of the jumps and technicality?
Yeah, I really like that.
You did Loretta's again, and you've had success in the past. How did this one go for you?
Last year, I won four motos, but this year, I got one third-place overall. One moto I got hit by other riders and had a DNF. Overall, it was pretty good. I got fourth, fifth, and one third. Next year will hopefully be better.
Were any of those amateur Nationals a first for you?
Mini O's was a first for me.
How did you like Mini O's?
I liked the National better than the Supercross because the Supercross track is so small and there are so many people.
And how did Freestone go for you this year?
Freestone was okay. I won two qualifying motos, but I struggled in the actual race.
We're one year into your contract with Amsoil/Factory Connection/Honda. Talk about how things are going with that.
When I first started with them, I was uncomfortable having the big rig. I was like, "What am I doing here?" Now I'm getting used to it, and the team is awesome. The bike is good every day and it's really cool.
You've also got a rad mechanic too.
He's pretty funny. Every morning he's wide open. Supercross days are pretty early, I wake up at six in the morning to be at the track by eight. One day he came over to my room and he says as loud as he can, "Did you see my Instagram followers?!" That was pretty funny.