Gutierrez calls Monza “crucial weekend”

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Esteban Gutierrez has highlighted next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix as being crucial to Sauber as the team looks to have a strong second half of the season.

The Mexican driver made his Formula One debut at the beginning of the year and has since failed to score any points, largely thanks to the pace of the Sauber C32 car. His teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, has also struggled to impress despite – at one point – being thought to be the natural successor to either Mark Webber at Red Bull or Felipe Massa at Ferrari. However, Gutierrez is hopeful of the team bouncing back to form at Monza next weekend.

“Coming from a track like Spa, we need to adapt to Monza in terms of driving style, strategy and set-up,” he explained. “It will be a crucial weekend, because stability in slow corners is important and, unfortunately, this is where we’ve been struggling.

“We have to focus on that and try to improve. Our pace is good, but now we need to complement that with the right decisions.”

Gutierrez currently holds a best result of eleventh at the Spanish Grand Prix, where he ran strongly on the hard tire early on to lead for a few laps. Eventually, he could not quite score his first point, although he did set the fastest lap of the race.

Sauber’s future has also come under close scrutiny in recent weeks after the team was supposedly saved thanks to Russian investment. With the deal came a driver, Sergey Sirotkin, who is poised to become the youngest driver in the history of Formula One next season relying he gains his superlicense.

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

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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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.”