Proceedings finally got underway at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the penultimate round of the 2016 FIM Motocross World Championship and Shaun left the Grand Prix of Americas with a frustrating 13th position overall.
The periphery of Hurricane Hermine meant that the first day of practice and qualification at Charlotte was washed out by relentless rain and the race programme was condensed into a Saturday-only schedule. Across a jumpy and soggy layout built in The Dirt Track oval of the massive racing complex Shaun took his Wilvo Virus Performance KTM to 16th position in Timed Practice (two small crashes did not help his cause) and occupy the same slot in the gate.
15,500 fans filled the grandstand for an all-encompassing view of the temporary but first-class facility and to watch the MXGP elite take-on some high profile names from the American series like Eli Tomac and Justin Barcia.
The first moto was uneventful and the quick course meant that making ground on other riders without benefitting from any mistakes was tricky. Shaun took a mid-pack start and then had compatriots Tommy Searle and Dean Wilson for company, eventually beating both but slightly frustrated to only take fourteenth place as his progress was hindered by a broken rear brake lever and a goggle problem after the eyewear was struck by a stone.
In the second race Shaun was sitting on the verge of a top ten classification – his start again doing him no favours – when a muscle problem around his torso caused difficulty in breathing. Simpson had been hit by a large rock to the chest but was at a loss as to how and why his back was in pain. Unable to resist the charges from Searle and Kevin Strijbos he soldiered to the line for thirteenth.
“I’m disappointed with this one,” he said. “I had great expectations for the track when I saw the circuit and the good job the guys had done with it after the race but it didn’t turn out to be as good as I thought. I had problems in both races that you cannot really account for and it made doing anything better today a big ask. Glen Helen next and I track I like so we’ll be looking to finish the season in the right way.”
Simpson will now head west and to southern California for the final Grand Prix of the year. Shaun has unfinished business at Glen Helen; a venue where he scored an MX2 podium finish in 2010. Last year his race lasted mere seconds after being hit into the opening banked right-hand first turn and falling into the pack. He suffered a haematoma on his hip and missed the second moto. ‘24’ can wrap up a top ten finish in the world championship standings if he can finish ahead or just behind Strijbos. Shaun missed three rounds this summer recovering from a broken right hand.