Team Great Britain repeated their 2019 podium celebrations at the Motocross of Nations as Shaun, Ben Watson and Conrad Mewse finished 3rd overall at a rain-hit Mantova in Italy and missed out on victory by just 2 points. The SS24 KTM racer achieved the result despite an injury to his right thumb.
The Mantova sand in northern Italy was the stage for the 74th running of the Motocross of Nations and the eighth time that Shaun has been selected as one of the fastest three riders for Team Great Britain. The 33-year-old was alongside Ben Watson and Conrad Mewse and the crew qualified well under hot sunshine on Saturday but a first-lap blameless crash during the opening lap of the MX Open qualification heat for Shaun carried some heavy consequences with a torn ligament around his right thumb.
The veteran iced and wrapped the joint and gritted his teeth to try and post at least one race result that would help count towards the five out of six that were necessary for the Nations scorecard.
Relentless rainfall began just before midday at Mantova and lasted through to the evening. The track became far softer and slower and not only helped Shaun’s condition but also his proven technique in the terrain. A mediocre start in Shaun’s first race (the second moto of three on the day) meant he had to use the goggle lane for replacement eyewear in the formative laps. He rode to 12th place. Simpson was shrewder in the third moto as he tucked inside at the start and pushed into the top ten. His excellent 6th position was a key contributor to Team GBR’s 39-point haul, ensuring their fourth consecutive top three classification at the event and the second medal in a row for Simpson [after Assen and the last edition of the MXoN in 2019], who was again wearing the distinctive #9 on the front of the KTM 450 SX-F.
“Second podium on the bounce for me and it’s been a hard slog to climb those steps!” he smiled. “Doing it at Assen was one thing where we felt we were underdogs but the other two riders were very strong and I kinda felt like the weak link in the team coming here. I cemented that feeling on Saturday in the Quali race where that injury didn’t help me at all. A few painkillers later and some tape – thanks to Swordy [Stephen Sword] for sorting me out – we were able to give our all today after not knowing what was going to be possible. I wasn’t sure I could even ride after warm-up. I was reasonably happy with my first moto but to finish 6th in the second meant I was more-than-happy. Seeing that ‘podium’ sign on the pitboard in the last couple of laps made me smile. It’s nice to see these guys – Ben and Conrad – really fresh and coming through in British motocross. This could be my last one, so I want to say thanks to Marc [Chamberlain, Team Manager] for picking us and we’ll definitely be leaving here with a smile on our faces.”
Shaun will have precious few days to improve his hand before MXGP reignites with the Grand Prix of Germany at Teutschenthal next weekend.
1. Team Italy (Cairoli, Guadagnini, Lupino) 37 points
2. Team Netherlands (Coldenhoff, Van de Moosdijk, Herlings) 38
3. Team GBR (Watson, Mewse, Simpson) 39
4. Team Russia (Bobryshev, Brylyakov, Petrashin) 44
5. Team France (Paturel, Vialle, Boisrame) 50
Photo thanks to Ray Archer