13th overall for Shaun at Uddevalla in Sweden gave cause for optimism on what was his first full Grand Prix appearance since April. The sixteenth round of nineteen in MXGP was not without incident however…
Ninth position in Qualification on Saturday gave Shaun some hope that his speed and race fitness was not too far off the mark. Uddevalla – back on the calendar after a hiatus in 2016 – was typically rough but also slick with the hard quarry-set base of the terrain proving tricky to judge. The layout was wider and faster and frequent summery showers helped roughen the course.
Shaun was riding the Wilvo Yamaha YZ450F for the first time since the Grand Prix of Lombardia in June and after recovering from a broken left arm. It was also his maiden out with the 2018 version of his racebike. Simpson was alone in the awning with teammate Arnaud Tonus missing due to a fractured rib picked up in the Swiss round the previous weekend.
The first moto was mired by a stall over a spine jump that caused #24 to dip out of the top ten and he had to work his way back to eleventh. The second race was affected by a bent gear shifter that meant the former multi British Champion had to try and force the lever back out (without success) and then find a speed with limited gear options, as well as a temporarily jammed rear brake. By the time of the chequered flag Shaun had 11-14 for 13 overall.
“I’m really pleased with how the weekend went because the goal here was solely to get some track time, some data for the bike and set-up and to see how my wrist felt but I ended up being really competitive,” he said. “Fitness-wise things were good, there were a couple of gremlins with the new bike we need to sort out but overall it was a solid weekend.”
“I was missing a bit of raw speed in the timed sessions but I wasn’t too worried about that. My starts were pretty good and I was top five-six both times in the first corner but chickened-out a little bit,” said the Scot, perhaps mindful of the crash that led to his injury on the opening turn at Ottobiano. “I made a couple of mistakes and lost some positions but rode quite solidly. In the second moto I was riding without gears and without brakes at one point! Looking back on today I want more, and I will get more, but I’m happy to have got through the weekend with our goals achieved and some results on the board.”
Shaun’s next major meeting will be the USGP at WW Motocross Park in Florida in two weeks time; round seventeen of MXGP.
Photo kind thanks to Ray Archer