The English winter climate was not as kind as it could have been for the 2016 edition of the Hawkstone Park International but Wilvo Virus Performance KTM’s Shaun Simpson blazed through the dark, wet sand to walk the top step of the podium in the premier class with results of 3-1 in the two motos.

Aiming for a rostrum finish in his first competitive outing of the year, for his new team and with factory KTM engines, Simpson’s performance was in fact emphatic, confident and superior and as he defeated a number of Grand Prix peers in tricky riding conditions.

“To be honest we have been lucky with the weather all day compared to yesterday and how it has been,” the 27 year old double British Champion said. “We had a few little showers and the track held-up amazingly well. Even though the club did some work on it after the practice and before the races it was quite one-liney and they had to cut the hill so there was a few new sections to compensate the lap and the times were up to nearly two minutes twenty so it was nice and long.”

“I had an excellent day,” the 2015 Belgian and Dutch Grands Prix winner commented. “I poled qualifying from [Clement] Desalle and had a good start in the first moto and took the holeshot but then stalled it in the second corner like a total goon. That was a bit of a ‘fail’. I tried to get the bike started again and eventually got going in eighteenth or nineteenth and worked my way up to fifth and passed [Ben] Townley and [Kevin] Strijbos to get up behind Brad Anderson but by then my roll-offs and helmet were totally clogged. I didn’t managed to get past Anderson with three laps to go so I thought third would be better than binning it.”

“In the second race I got out behind Desalle and felt like I was in control of his pace. I could follow and was waiting for a mistake that didn’t come so I put a pounce on with three laps to go and managed to win. Townley also passed him, which meant I got the overall. It was a smart first race and then a good second one to win the event, so I was happy.”

In front of damp and weather-worn fans Shaun still had the Superfinal ‘bonus’ race ahead. “Lastly we had the Superfinal and I was twentieth into the gate in the mix between the two classes and was on the concrete,” he recalled. “A bad start then and by the time I worked my way through I was third behind Max Anstie and Jeffrey Herlings. Max fell off and Jeffrey was quite a few seconds further up the track.”

A win and second place was an ideal launch for ‘24’ in 2016 and he now faces two appointments on French soil. The Valence International next weekend immediately followed by a meeting at LaCapella Marival will represent the Scot’s ‘warm-up’ phase in prep for the first Grand Prix of the season at Losail, Qatar at the end of the month.

Hawkstone was a significant fixture for Simpson and his maiden appearance in the Wilvo Virus Performance KTM colours. “Everyone did a great job within the team and I’m really happy with how everything went,” he said. “As I hoped; it was a good payback for all the hard work we’ve done in training and testing. It was also great to see so many fans and some of the Simpson Army already out in force. A good day all-round.”

For the second year Shaun is running his special ‘Simpson Army’. The fan club carries special benefits for those who wish to sign-up and follow the KTM racer through the campaign and as he aims to improve on fourth position in the FIM Motocross World Championship secured last season. Check out the website for details:

Shaun competes at the highest level thanks to: Alpinestars, Fly Racing, GoPro, Leatt, Scott, Shoei and can race worldwide in the best shape thanks to: Carnegie Fuels, Chambers Engineering, David Beatt Borrteknik, Dyce Carriers, D&D Services, Dr Noodles, Harris Hire, Ironsight, Kellcon Group, Portsmouth Motocross Club, Racebikebitz, Safe Access, Sitesealants, Step1 Fitness, Steve Benton Transport, TWMA. Shaun is also able to count on: Bawbags, Cleverbanners, Compresssport, CTI, DW Bikes, Germicadeals, Instant Shelters, Madison, Ogio, Rockwell and Push