Shaun is currently on his way to Doha for the opening appointment of nineteen rounds in the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship. The initial soiree for MXGP will take place on the flat, jumpy desert terrain of the renowned Losail circuit: a short distance north of the city.

With a Grand Prix Yamaha ‘re-acquaintance’ now only a few hours away (a first blast on the YZ450F since that momentous victory at Lierop for the final round of 2013) we caught up with #24 for a couple of essential questions before the lights flicker-on in Qatar.

With a few days to go define your current state of readiness with the Wilvo Yamaha?

Things have came together nicely in the last few weeks. I would say we were very organised pre-Christmas then things went well with riding in January and getting bike-time done in Spain. After that we were chasing our tail a little for a couple weeks with things arriving late but we have pulled together and have a really good base package ready to go for the first races. You can always feel [even] more prepared but I really believe this year that I’m more organised than I have been in the past, personally and together with the team. The bike and crew are ready to go.

Thirty-eight moto starts in 2017: Will it be a campaign where the fabled Simpson consistency pays off?

I would assume so. My consistency always seems to be a great asset and I’m going to count on that this year as usual but this season it’s more of a ‘start as you mean to go on’ sort of theme I’ve been painting and preparing for. I want to start the season strong this year; top five results will be key early-on to be in the hunt later when the consistent results keep coming and I’ll be ready for the races I know suit me. Experience tells me that something feels different about 2017… watch this space.

A first Grand Prix as a married man: no complacency in sight? 

Absolutely not. A fantastic new chapter of my life has opened and I’m as motivated and charged as I’ve ever been to make this year count. The bond that Rachel and I have at the moment is amazing and we are both working toward the same goal. The seasons seem to fly past quicker with each year so we’re working hard to make 2017 one to remember.

Thoughts on Losail and starting the season there for the fifth year…?

I think it’s a great venue to start the season. I haven’t talked to many riders that dislike the track; it’s actually one that I really look forward to. Losail means an organised set-up for a fly away in comparison to others that we attend…so that leaves me struggling to find a negative! I would say that for the first GP that it does lack atmosphere, a first GP in Europe would top it in that respect.

Leaving Doha on Sunday: what will make you ease into that plane seat with a feeling of contentment?

I’m looking to make a step this season; that’s clear for me and as mentioned earlier I’m looking for top fives. Sitting on the flight out of Doha on Sunday with two steady risk-free motos inside the top five would set me up nicely.

Photo by Yamaha Racing