After performing below his lofty expectations in Supercross, Jo Shimoda emphatically turned his fortunes around when he headed outdoors.
Going on to claim an impressive second in the 250 AMA Pro Motocross championship behind the masterful Jett Lawrence, Shimoda cut a revitalised and confident figure throughout the series.
Silky smooth, composed and riding with conviction, the Japanese starlet admirably didn’t register an overall finish worse than fifth on his way to securing nine overall podiums from the 12 rounds, including two wins at RedBud and Unadilla.
Coming out on top in five individual motos further underlined what a terrific campaign he enjoyed aboard his Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki. “We gave it everything each race and hopefully next year we’ll be going for that championship from the start,” he asserted upon reflecting on his strong efforts.
Gaining the belief that he could run with and battle with the rapid Lawrence brothers, who he’s good friends with, his uptick in speed was another key takeaway. With him previously taking his time to settle into the pace of races, it was great to see him hitting his straps from the outset, thus ensuring he was ideally situated to duke it out with the frontrunners.
One of only three men to claim an overall alongside the dominant Jett Lawrence and RJ Hampshire, Shimoda’s consistently excellent displays meant he was clearly the second best man outdoors.
Improving dramatically since linking up with Nick Wey earlier in the year, this has unquestionably been a crucial catalyst towards his accomplished output outdoors. Clicking into gear, in the form of his life and going from strength to strength with every race, expect him to continue on this upward curve as he matures and spends more time under Wey’s expert tutelage.
Indeed, seeing as no Japanese rider has ever won an AMA title, if he can continue on his current path, it’s possible he could be creating history sooner rather than later. But before recalibrating his focus to Supercross and blazing more trails in America, firstly he’ll be keen to excel at the Motocross of Nations for Team Japan at RedBud, a venue he won at back in July in Pro Motocross.
Fresh from winning a Japanese national just last week on a 450, this should serve as another boost for the talented 20-year-old heading into the showpiece event. “I moved to the U.S when I was in elementary school to compete at the highest level of amateur motocross. Since turning professional in America, I haven’t had a chance to go back home and battle with my old friends, so when the opportunity was brought up, I immediately said yes,” he explained.
“Similarly, it’s an honour to be selected for Team Japan and represent the Japanese people at the Motocross of Nations. I earned my first overall win at RedBud earlier this year, so I hope to continue that success and make everyone back home proud.”
Hoping to close his year on a high on the biggest stage in the sport and carrying plenty of positive momentum into the MXoN, there’s every chance he’ll put in a statement ride to duly enhance his rapidly growing reputation. And, in the process, prove why he’s one of the truly elite 250 pilots on the planet.