Interview: Shane McElrath – Villa Park SX2 winner

The 2022 WSX season couldn’t have gone much better for Shane McElrath as he won the SX2 title and that means he is running the #1 plate this year. That brings extra pressure but at the opening round of the 2023 series, McElrath showed just why he won the title last year and that he is going to be hard to beat this year too as he won the opening round – no better way to start a title defence.

We caught up with McElrath to discuss his opening round and more.

GateDrop: Shane, obviously you won the SX2 title last year and there’s no better way to start the defence of your title. You must be really happy with your night here at Villa Park?

McElrath: Yeah, it was hard work today. What is crazy is doing this schedule in just a one day format, we didn’t get to do that last year. Today was a heavy day, this schedule is not easy but this is what we work for. I am excited to come out on top, it was a much better race day all around. I struggled a bit in the timed qualifying, the track was really tough and for our group it was really wet. I tried a couple of bike changes during that as well but I ended up going back once I got out there because I wasn’t feeling it. We went back and then left it there. The race track tonight was pretty rough and pretty technical and I am happy to get two holeshots because that was key tonight. 

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GateDrop: Just on the track, how did it compare to Cardiff or Australia for WSX last year – I think it spots it was more basic and maybe harder to pass but you got good starts… 

McElrath:  This track, with it being red clay, it dug deep. Everywhere that had a rut, it got deep. There were some big rocks out there, it was a really technical race track and being out front, you had to be defensive. The lines the guys were taking behind me where a little bit better but I couldn’t leave the door open like that because it was tight. It was a tough race track to have a race strategy on. 

GateDrop: Just on that final race, did you know it was Enzo behind you and not Max? Enzo got you a few times but you read him like a book and got him straight back! 

McElrath: Yeah, around three laps to go I could hear the Yamaha so I knew it wasn’t Max. I seen him come up the inside of me one time and I knew then it was Enzo. It’s hard to tell what the laps will be like when you get the last lap – there was actually a miscommunication about how many laps were to go so it was a quick sprint again at the end. Once he tried to pass me I knew to cover there so I knew he couldn’t pass me here but if something did happen I knew I’d have to respond and I was happy to do that. 

GateDrop: How did you find the crowd here compared to Cardiff last year? A smaller stadium but I felt there was a pretty good crowd… 

McElrath: It was really good. A good Max Anstie crowd and I don’t think they were to happy to see an American win but that’s what World Supercross is about. It was good. 

GateDrop: With the red flag tonight you really had four starts, what was that like for the heart rate? Pretty intense I’m sure… 

McElrath: It was kind of good because I could regroup but honestly, rolling through that section when it was a red cross, I was surprised they didn’t red flag it earlier than that. The very first lap through there I rolled through it and I see Mike not moving, I kept waiting and then having to roll through the section. I was like, ‘dude, are they going to keep going?’. Finally they showed the red flag, riding through there it’s not good to see, it sucks. Also we aren’t doing the jobs, you are trying to race, be respectful and not get penalized. There’s a grey area there, so yeah… 

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Interview: Andy McKinstry

Image: WSX