MXGP hurries onto round three at the new Redsand complex near Benicasim this weekend and Shaun is looking to stitch two good motos together after some sour and sweet at a snowy Valkenswaard.
It’s rather unusual to see grand prix motocross run across a blanket of white but the combination of rain and plummeting temperatures meant an authentic climate challenge for Shaun (who recently celebrated his 30th birthday) and the Wilvo Yamaha crew at the Eurocircuit south of Eindhoven. The mercury slipped as low as minus two for a complete contrast to the sunshine and warm conditions of the season opener in Argentina.
Across the dark Valkenswaard sand Shaun had both disappointing and encouraging results. The first moto produced a DNF while he flew to sixth position in the second race for his highest classification of the young season so far. “I actually have a really positive feeling about the weekend,” he reflected. “OK, we had the DNF but I came back to sixth in the next one and felt like that’s where I belong at the moment: in the mix with Paulin, Anstie, Febvre and Van Horebeek. I really feel like I was riding more like myself, was comfortable with the pace and was enjoy myself. Hopefully there is more of that to come.”
Simpson was among the fastest riders in the practice sessions on Saturday and although he had an issue with his goggles in the qualification heat race was looking feisty on the YZ450F. “Saturday started with some good lap-times again, like in Argentina, and that’s like a feather in the cap for how I am feeling on the bike and how we have it working,” he said.
“Sunday could easily have been two top sixes/sevens and even more points,” he adds. “I feel like I am definitely part of that second group and in years past I’ve been the ‘first of the third group’. So I have made a step in the right direction this off-season and it is showing. It is good to get away from Valkenswaard and the cold and line up next weekend in Redsands and get the job done. Valkenswaard always carries a lot of hype and it is quite local and central for a lot of teams and it is bloody manic; so in one way I’m glad it’s over and it hasn’t been the kindest to me in recent years with some ups-and-downs. But leaving there Sunday I was feeling positive. Now onto something new.”
Shaun is currently 9th in the MXGP championship standings with two of nineteen rounds in the books (the calendar could be extended to twenty events with a rumoured return of the Grand Prix of Bulgaria at Sevlievo mooted; the series has not been to the venue since 2014 and it is notable for being the site of Shaun’s first world championship podium finish back in 2008). The Redsand circuit on the east coast of Spain should thankfully warm MXGP considerably.
Photo by Ray Archer