Button hopeful for race day after qualifying eighth

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While still maintaining that McLaren is behind on pace compared to the other front-runners, Jenson Button is hopeful that he’ll have an advantage for race day on Sunday in Shanghai after utilizing the medium tires during the final round of Saturday’s qualifying sessions.

“All the guys in front will be starting on grained soft-compound tires, and I think we’re going to see the high-fuel graining on the soft [tires] that we saw in practice [Friday], so it’s going to be an extremely interesting race,” said Button, who will start alongside Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo in Row 4.

“The first 10 laps tomorrow are going to be eventful; if I can get a good start, I’ll hopefully be able to find some clear air in front of me, and then we’ll see what happens.”

Button’s slow timed lap of 2 minutes, 5.273 seconds in Q3 was by design in an attempt to make up spots on the grid during the aforementioned opening stint of the race.

“It’s such a difficult call,” Button explained. “The racer in you wants to go out…In Q2, we were relatively quick — P7 was a slight surprise, we were quicker than we expected. I felt we got everything out of the car.

“We went for the prime direction. It was a bit of cat and mouse at the end to see who actually does a lap.”

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
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Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”