Shaun’s first taste of the Intu Xanadú Arroyomolinos racetrack southwest of Madrid resulted in 18th position overall as MXGP logged the thirteenth round of eighteen in 2021.
After recent tough days in Germany and France, the SS24 KTM MXGP team headed to the second Spanish Grand Prix at the new venue south of the capital city. For Shaun it was the first time negotiating the rutty and undulating hard-pack on account of missing the inaugural race at the facility in the autumn of 2020.
The recent relaxation of restrictions around public events and the improving pandemic numbers in Spain ensured a big turnout at Intu Xanadú and bright skies accompanied the fifth consecutive weekend of racing for Simpson’s crew. The former GP winner was still dealing with the effects of his recent thumb ligament injury but was optimistic of better results after the physically tough challenge at Teutschenthal and then the crashes that blighted his experience at Lacapelle Marival the previous Sunday.
After qualifying in 20th Shaun made a decent getaway in the first moto and was hovering on the periphery of the top-twelve. He made an effective rhythm and only suffered in the closing stages of the 30-minute and 2 -distance as he recent physical problems wore away at his stamina. He collected 15th. Unfortunately, a lacklustre start in the second moto relegated #24 to the rear of the pack on the opening lap and he could only pick-away at vague hopes of the points. Shaun rode in fits-and-starts to the flag but missed out with 22nd positions.
“Better than France but still not really what we’re looking for,” he said. “I’m happy that I felt better on the bike but it still seems like we’re catching up when the season is in a busy final charge. We’re utterly focussed on doing the best we can for these last races and I’m enjoying the occasion: the fans here were pretty wild and it’s exciting to take-in some of that GP vibe again. It will be a short week but we’ll be back to Belgium, getting rest and then ready to finish the year the best we can in Italy.”
The final phase of 2021 MXGP means that SS24 KTM MXGP will decamp to Italy for two weeks. Three Grands Prix at Pietramurata in Arco di Trento will occur in one week before Shaun closes the international racing calendar with a double header in the sand of Mantova.
Photo thanks to Ray Archer