Someone finally broke up the Lawrence brothers' party at the front of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and it was Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda. Now, it’s true that Jett Lawrence’s engine blew up while leading the first moto, but it’s not like Jo didn’t earn this win with some great riding of his own. He nailed the fastest time in qualifying, his first ever P1 in his career in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. In the first moto, he managed to out duel Hunter Lawrence for the win after Jett’s engine let go. In moto two, he found himself way, way back after a first-lap crash. Even with a bent front brake rotor, he charged all the way from outside the top 30 to third, which was enough for the overall with 1-3 scores.
So, it was hard earned for Jo, and the RedBud fans loved it. Especially after he showed his “I love USA” message he has written in marker across his stomach! Here's what he had to say in the post-race press conference
You were tenacious in moto one. How did you feel in that moto?
Jo Shimoda: I felt good! Can’t do much better than first! A good start, that’s all I was looking for at first. After that, I think I was behind Hunter for a little bit and then Jett passed me, and then his bike broke. I wanted to battle with him, too, but you can’t do too much about it. I just never gave up, just kept pushing and pushing and got that first win.
Talk about that crowd response. You had "I Love USA" printed on your chest! What was that all about?
I don’t know, to be honest. Before I even raced, to be honest I’m just happy they gave me the opportunity to stay here. I just love to show that I love USA and I hope everyone gets that.
You’re the first Japanese rider to win a moto in America. That also has to be really gratifying.
That's right! Okay then moto two came about. Things obviously weren’t what you wanted in the beginning.
Yeah, I got a bad start like I always do. I tried to make up as much as possible on the first lap, but then I think it was RJ that crashed on the first lap, on the roller. I landed on his bike. After that I just tried to catch up as much as possible. At one point I was running third, maybe with five laps left. But from that crash I had bent my front (brake) rotor. So the last three or four laps my front brake was locking. I had to back down for a little bit, just enough to escape with third position.
We saw the replay where you were looking down and pointing down at the front of your motorcycle. I think when you went through the mechanic’s area.
Yes, it was acting a little weird. I just wanted to see what we can do.
What does it mean to put Mitch [Payton, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team owner] back on the box? Been a long dry spell for Mitch.
It feels good! I think he’s stoked about it. I hope he’s stoked about it!
Hunter Lawrence: I have something for Jo. It’s a special day for Jo. His first win. I think he should get that "I Love USA" tattoed on his stomach.
Jo: No! No! [Laughs] I like USA, I love it, but no tattoo!
Jo with that chaos in the second moto, did you have any idea where you were? Could you keep tabs on people?
To be honest, not really. I didn’t really look at the pit board. Last time I looked at it was seventh place, and then I was just charging. Put my head down and go.
Jason Weigandt caught up to Jo Shimoda after the race as well.
Hey first, what happened there in the second moto. How was your start, actually?
I was like tenth, maybe ninth.
Well that’s bad but not bad, bad.
Actually, the start was really bad but I made some quick passes. On the roller. Then Justin Cooper, RJ, Vohland, they were all crashing but I couldn’t see it because they were behind the roller. I landed on the bike, and I went down. Got back up and kept going and going. Luckily I got to third with about five laps to go. I didn’t know. Plus my front rotor was bent. So when I jumped it would lock my front wheel. So I had to back down. I was able to do just enough to keep Levi [Kitchen] behind me.
Look, the Lawrence brothers and especially Jett had some problems today, but you were fastest in qualifying. So even outside the win, which worked out for you, were you feeling it today. You had speed.
The qualifying was pretty fun just because I’m usually not a qualify guy. Just because I’m always pushing too hard and that makes it worse.
Oh interesting! You said that after moto two, also. You were rushing it too much.
Yeah. But you have to try to send it, sometimes.
Right. But sometimes it’s actually faster to go a little slower.
So now with qualifying, do you think maybe you figured something out?
I think so. Because I had two good sessions, not just one. Maybe yes. I hope I can bring this to Southwick. I need to be more “chillax” you know?