The British Champion showed some true grit to recover from two iffy starts at Villars sous Ecot and finish ninth overall for the Grand Prix of France and the eighth round of eighteen in 2015 MXGP.
An alleged crowd of 45,000 (weekend figure) found space around some impossibly steep slopes near the Swiss border and at a poky and compact track that hadn’t seen GP action since 1998. The course had a 1min 30 lap-time until the second motos where the long hard-pack ruts increased the technical nature of the track.
Simpson fought back from a disappointing jump out of the gate (and from seventh pick) in the first race and his pursuit of Red Bull factory KTM rider Ken De Dycker in the final four laps for seventh place was thrilling to watch. ‘24’ passed the Belgian, on the 2016 works 450SX-F, on the last lap for a well-earned slot.
The second moto was troublesome from the off as Shaun could not avoid a fallen David Philippaerts on the inside of the first corner and crashed as well. Second to last Shaun began an impressive cut through the field to reach eleventh and then ran out of time to catch Tyla Rattray for the top ten. His scorecard led to ninth overall and he consolidated seventh in the MXGP Championship standings.
“On the whole I didn’t enjoy this weekend. Apart from the atmosphere it has been a bit of a damp squib; from the news of the HRC guys, the paddock being so spread out, the wind, the dust and the track was too short and not technical enough until the second moto. I hate to ‘go on’! I’ve loved a couple of the GPs we’ve had this season but this was just a hard slog. I don’t think many people – apart from Febvre – liked the track. I came through quite well in that second moto and I was looking for a top ten and wanted that position and I just fell short. Overall, ninth is OK. It was hard to see people like Ferris and Coldenhoff in the top four and five; guys I have been beating week-in week-out but there are weekends that go like this and you just have to grind them out. I was being a bit hard on myself after warm-up this morning by thinking that I needed to find a few more seconds. I showed in the first race that my speed was not that bad. At the end of the day it is a strange event with lots of Frenchies that initially seem fast and you think ‘what’s going on?!’ but when it comes down to the hard push through ‘thirty minutes plus two’ then there is only one guy who is going to be there and that’s me. I’ve been solid every week and I’m happy with the set-up of the bike and how I’m feeling. I’m not making many mistakes and hopefully it will put me in a good spot.”
Onto Hawkstone Park next for the fourth round of the Maxxis British Championship and a series in which Shaun has yet to taste defeat in three races and eight motos.