Eighteen year old Jitsie factory Beta rider Jack Sheppard will head to La Bresse in France later this week in a confident mood ready for the opening round of the 2012 FIM Trial World Championship after having now completed his final preparations. Sheppard who captured the FIM Youth Trial World Championship last year, has spent the last six months or so fighting his way back to fitness after undergoing complex surgery to correct a rare condition in his right wrist.
Having not ridden a trial of any status since clinching his first ever World title in Japan, back in August of last year Jack returned to the competition stage last weekend to ride in a round of the Belgium national championship. The primary objective for his participation in this event, was to have the chance to put himself, the bike and the team through a final shakedown ahead of this weekend's French GP.
After a nervous start, which revealed just how much Sheppard has missed being in the competition arena over the last seven months, Jack recovered well to post the best lap score of the trial and to come home in a morale boosting second place. The trial at Chaumont-Gistoux gave the reigning Youth champion his first chance to work properly with his new minder James Lampkin, as the pairing looks to add yet another World title to their respective tallies starting in France this coming weekend.
The event also gave Jack the opportunity to make some small refinements to his factory Beta 300 which will hopefully power him to the 2012 FIM Junior Trial World Championship over the coming season. Speaking after his first competitive outing since his operation, Sheppard explained the following.
"The good news is that we are now ready for the first World trial. It seems like it has been a long road to get to this point, but now I am happy that it is finally here. My recovery has been slow, though consistent and always in the right direction, which shows that it has been correct not to rush my comeback."
"Being able to ride an event ahead of this weekend's championship opener was great, as it gave me the chance to get rid of any nerves and to feel comfortable about riding in competitions once again."
"Although I have been training with James (Lampkin) in more recent weeks, it was still good to be able to work together in a trial and to test the bike and the other new equipment we have."
Jack ended. "After a really bad start, I was pleased with how I recovered and how I was riding at the end of the trial. James was brilliant, and is definitely going to be a big help this year. There are some good guys in the Junior class, but hopefully starting in France, I can be in there and amongst them although I am not expecting too much too soon."