The first Grand Prix of Sardinia took place at the Riola Sardo circuit and Shaun completed his first race back on MXGP duty since being forced to miss the recent Turkish double-header with a 12-12 scorecard and 11th place overall.
The deep sand of the popular pre-season training venue represented a contrast to the purpose-built hard-pack of Afyonkarahisar and the last two dates for MXGP. It was a positive surface for Shaun to get back into the groove of GP racing with the SS24 KTM MXGP team and the Scot marked the 6th fastest lap-time in Timed Practice as the FIM World Championship continues with the hectic one-day format. It was his best slot of the year so far and a considerable improvement of his previous highest of 13th at Lommel in Belgium.
Under blue skies and in decent racing conditions for the dune-based circuit, Simpson made two decent starts to forage his way into the mid-top ten. #24 kept a decent pace until the last ebbs of both 30 minute and 2 lap motos where he just missed out on a double top ten ranking.
“It was nice to be back!” he smiled. “MXGP has been in the back of our minds for the last five-six weeks when we had other commitments in Britain. Of course, those didn’t really go to plan but we were really motivated to get back to GPs. We wanted to get some momentum going here in Sardinia and I was really happy to be near the front this morning with P6 in qualifying. That was ace and I felt that I was riding the track well.”
“The races were a bit trickier,” he continued. “I found it hard to pass and it was a bit like ‘follow-the-leader’. I mucked up both of my starts and that set the tone for the first race as I got away outside the top ten. I got up to 10th in the first and then briefly dropped it, which meant 12th and was a bit of a shame. We made a few changes to the bike for the second one and felt a bit better. I was running good for half the moto in 7th but I think the inactivity and the lack of the level of tracks for training meant it showed in my fitness. I was putting-in as much as possible…but it wasn’t quite enough. So unfortunately a few factory bikes got me. I felt that we showed something this weekend and there is a lot to play for. I cannot stress how much I am looking forward to this last run of races. I didn’t get to do that many back-to-backs last year or triple headesr because of the back injury. We’re greedy! We want more every week and we know we are on the right path with the bike.”
Staying in Italy – and in the sand in fact – Shaun will now represent Team Great Britain once more with the 74th Motocross of Nations occurring in Mantova next weekend. The last time #24 rode for his country at the event in 2019 the Brits made the podium at Assen. “It’s a big event and I’m really pumped to go there,” Shaun said. “The line-ups will be a bit different to normal because of the scheduling but there is a good chance to make the podium again. I want to continue this good streak into Teutschenthal.”
Photo thanks to Rob Simpson, Pinned Media