Eighteen year old Jitsie factory Beta rider Jack Sheppard recorded a solid fifth place on the opening day of the 2012 FIM Trial World Championship.
The Suffolk teenager had spent the last seventh months preparing for this occasion after undergoing surgery and fighting his way back to fitness in order to be ready for the start of the new season. Despite having still not regained his full fitness Jack came to the first GP with the intent of battling for a podium finish and with a first lap score of just twelve marks, he gave himself a real chance of reaching his high self imposed goal.
However the heat and the intensity of the event was to eventually to take its toll on Sheppard as he faded during the closing lap as a result of suffering fatigue in his injured right wrist. The level of Jack's pain and suffering was clear to see as he fived the final section of the day simply because he didn't have sufficent strength to hold on in the man made section. It was a cruel end to a tough day for the youngster who has worked so hard even to be a part of today's event.
Bright sunshine and intense heat made conditions even tougher on the French hillside above the small town of La Bresse. Fourteen of the fifteen rocky hazards were located in a trial parc at the top of the hill with only the last indoor type section being back in the town square. Jack started well with four cleans and just two dabs in the opening six sections before collecting his first five at the final double step in the seventh hazard. Despite this setback Sheppard recovered well to lose only another five marks before the close of the initial tour.
It was a different story on the second lap for Jack as his lack of bike fitness began to tell. Three fives and a three were to define his worsening performance as survival became more important than skill. Typically Sheppard fought his way to the end and managed to salvage fifth spot and collect eleven valauable championship points to kickstart his 2012 campaign.
Speaking after the event Jack stated. "My first feeling is of disappointment, but perhaps that is because I was expecting and hoping for too much. Apart from the five, my first lap was okay - it could have been better, but all things considered I was quite happy how things had gone."
"Very early in the second lap I was aware just how weak my wrist was becoming, as although I have trained and practiced, this is the first time I have ridden at this level in seven months. It was a frustrating afternoon, and I suppose in the end I need to be satisfied with a top five finish as it is going to be a long season."
Sheppard ended. "The most important thing right now is to try and get ready for tomorrow, as it's going to be another tough day."