The UK’s most successful off-road motorcycle racer in the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship, Shaun Simpson, will jump past a Grand Prix chequered flag for the last occasion as a full-time member of the MXGP field tomorrow at the Citta di Mantova round in Italy.

The eighteenth and final event of the 2021 MXGP series will also be the curtain-closer for the 33-year-old Scot and the SS24 KTM MXGP team.

Simpson, son of former Grand Prix rider Willie, made his Grand Prix debut as a 16-year-old in 2004 and entered the MX2 series full-time in 2005. He seized his first podium finish in 2008 where he finished 4th in the world and joined the imperious Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team, going on to claim his first chequered flag before injury struck.

The Scot, from Gauldry close to Dundee, moved up to the MXGP division in 2011 at the age of 22, and went on to achieve four Grand Prix wins (with two different brands) and six podium results, classifying 4th in the world as a privateer in 2015.

The popular racer, three times British Champion and ex-Belgian Champ, will continue competition but narrow his focus to domestic series’ in 2022.

“What can I say? It’s time,” he commented. “2020 was a disaster with the pandemic and also my concussion and back injury so it was important to come back from that and prove that I can still compete at the highest level. I wanted to close the story in the right way and when we’ve made starts then we’ve run top ten pace in MXGP this year, especially when 2021 is maybe the hardest and toughest season I’ve ever seen or experienced for speed. It’s crazy-fast and competitive.”

“It almost goes without saying that I owe so many thanks to many people, everyone who believed in me or backed me or took a chance on a Scottish kid who just wanted to fulfil his dream of riding at the top. The journey has been brilliant: at times hard and painful and at times everything that you’d expect from a career in this sport. We’ve travelled the world, met a lot of very cool fans, beaten some of the best riders and had an amazing time.”

A career in numbers

#24: The identity

18: 2021 was Shaun’s eighteenth season as a full-time FIM World Championship racer

1st: Shaun won four Grands Prix in the premier class

4th: His best world championship ranking, achieved in MX2 in 2008 and MXGP in 2015

1st: The first British rider to win in the MXGP category and the last privateer to triumph with victory at the 2013 Grand Prix of Benelux

7: MXGP moto wins

6/10: MXGP podium finishes (plus 4 in MX2)

9: Teams represented in Grand Prix

5: Brands ridden in Grand Prix: Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, TM, Yamaha

10: Years competing in the MXGP class

4: National titles in Britain and Belgium

2: Motocross of Nations podium finishes for Team Great Britain

Photo by Ray Archer