Ninth position in qualification was just half the story for Shaun today at a sunny Assen circuit for the Grand Prix of the Netherlands. The Scot was fastest in Free Practice and again among the protagonists in Timed Practice and just two blameless collisions in the Qualification Heat forced an emphatic charge for his placing in the gate for tomorrow.

The British Champion could not avoid the spiralling Max Nagl on the first lap of the twenty minute and two lap chase that took place in decent summer conditions and in front of a large crowd at the historic racing venue. Another run-in with a Kawasaki rider shortly after meant that Shaun had to salvage whatever he could from last position. The adversity prompted a trawl through the pack of the premier class of MXGP to reach an excellent ninth; the 28 year old’s speed and formidability was only matched by Pole sitter Tony Cairoli.

The KTM rider is aiming to avoid trouble and target his second overall win in a row tomorrow and is excellently grounded in feeling, settings and confidence to make it happen.

“It was an eventful race but I felt like I could do exactly what I wanted on the track and just could keep the bike ‘pinned’ everywhere,” Simpson said, commenting on a layout on which many riders struggled for traction. “I think we are sitting pretty at the moment. Anywhere inside the top ten is fine for the gate and if I can stay out of trouble in the first few laps then it could be a very good day.”

Round sixteen of eighteen is the last fixture in Europe this season and before MXGP heads for two weekends in a row to the USA.