Team Honda HRC announced Wednesday that Jo Shimoda will race a CRF250R for Honda’s factory squad during the 2024 and 2025 seasons. The Japanese native will race alongside teammates Jett Lawrence, Hunter Lawrence and Chance Hymas.
Born and raised in Suzuka, Japan, Shimoda began riding dirt bikes when he was 4 years old. After earning early success as an amateur racer in his home country, he sought out stiffer competition internationally. He competed in Europe (even racing against Jett Lawrence on occasion) and in the U.S., earning the 2016 Supermini 2 AMA Amateur National Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch, at age 14. He signed with the Honda-supported Factory Connection team’s amateur program in 2017, then turned pro near the end of the 2019 season. In 2020 (Shimoda’s first full year as a professional), he finished third in the AMA 250SX East Region final standings, earning the AMA Supercross Rookie of the Year Award. With the Factory Connection team closing before the following season, Shimoda signed with Pro Circuit Kawasaki. In 2021 he became the first Japanese rider to win an AMA 250SX main event, finishing second in the East Region final standings. Last year saw him become the first Japanese rider to score an AMA Pro Motocross overall win, earning second in the 250 final standings. He was third in the same series earlier this year, also taking second in the inaugural SuperMotocross 250 class. So far in his career, Shimoda has collected three 250 overall wins in AMA Pro Motocross, one 250 Regional win in AMA Supercross and one 250 win in SuperMotocross.
“I’m super-stoked to join Honda’s factory team,” Shimoda said. “I feel like I’ve progressed a lot since I was with Factory Connection, and I hope that I can take the next step in my career, to win an AMA championship. I’m friends with the Lawrence brothers since we were teammates at Factory Connection, and they’ve shown that the bikes are capable of winning at the highest level. We’ve already started testing for 2024, and I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Shimoda is the first Japanese rider to sign a factory contract with American Honda, although Honda has fielded top Japanese racers in MotoGP, World Trials and even Formula 1.
“We’re really pleased to welcome Jo back to the Honda family,” said Brandon Wilson, Manager of Racing and Experiential Marketing at American Honda. “We hated losing him ahead of 2021, so it feels like a reunion. He has made great progress in the last few years, firmly establishing himself as one of the top riders in the 250 class. Rider-signing news is always exciting, but this one is particularly meaningful for our management and many of our associates, given the Japanese connection. That said, although he’s already the most successful Japanese motocrosser to race fulltime in the U.S., Jo has his sights set on bigger goals, and we look forward to helping him achieve them.”