Sunshine bleated down on Glen Helen for the eighteenth and final round of MXGP this year and where Shaun’s 10th position overall also led to the same position in an interrupted championship in 2016…
Signs were a little worrying on Saturday as the Wilvo Virus Performance KTM rider struggled to find his pace and effective lines around the vast hills and fast curves of the Californian circuit and the second American Grand Prix in the space of a week.
The 28 year old re-grouped for Sunday’s motos run in temperatures over thirty degrees. Although Shaun started each thirty minute and two lap dash quite tentatively he increased his speed and confidence each time, placing 12th and then 9th. The second race in particular saw him gain ground quickly and he was mere metres from relegating factory HRC rider Evgeny Bobryshev to ninth at the finish line.
Simpson ended the day at top Brit in the class and also in the championship for the fourth year in a row. “I’m really happy to be honest,” he said. “We have some work to do on my speed and my starts – for sure – and how quickly I get into the rhythm of the race but I really showed myself, my team and everyone how my fitness is ‘there’ and how I keep plugging-on and I’m a strong ol’ dude. However it was a big ‘too little too late’ in both motos.”
“I really enjoyed it and enjoyed the track and it was good to have two solid motos to finish the championship and tie-up tenth in the series after such an up-and-down season,” he added. “I was one point from sixth overall and I just feel like it hasn’t been a bad day at all when yesterday it wasn’t looking too good.”
Highlights of 2016 included a moto victory at the Grand Prix of the Netherlands and a top three classification at the Belgian round. The low-point a broken hand after the Grand Prix of Spain that represented his worst injury since 2009.
Shaun now heads back to Europe and with just a week to prepare for his sixth representation for Great Britain at the Motocross of Nations. The Italian hills of Maggiora will stage the 70th edition of the historic race on September 25th. First up this weekend the final round of the Maxxis British Championship will see Simpson go head-to-head with Nations teammate Tommy Searle for the national crown and with just 16 points splitting the rivals.
Photo by Ray Archer