Shaun was less than two laps from a remarkable overall victory at Leuchars for the fifth round of eight in the Maxxis British Championship until a run-in with a backmarker dropped him to third place overall.
Competing a short distance from his home in Fife and with a buoyant local crowd the reigning champion nevertheless put on a good show with his Wilvo Virus Performance KTM as the twenty eight year old battles to recover full fitness and form after a broken right hand.
Changeable conditions meant the odd shower at Leuchars and the first visit by the national series across the border since 2009. Simpson was the main draw at the first of two fixtures in the small summer break from MXGP and the FIM Motocross World Championship. It was also his first competitive meet after being forced to withdraw from the British and Lombardian Grands Prix due to his injury. ‘24’ duelled for positions and the best lap-times around the sandy course with main title rival Tommy Searle and winner of round four at Desertmartin Jake Nicholls. “The weather played ball and the track was great, if a little short, but it was cutting up quite well. I set the fastest lap up in practice until the last minute when Tommy put an effort in and the whole day was really about him, me and Jake,” Shaun recalls.
In the first moto a minor get-off prevented Simpson from being able to challenge holeshotter Nicholls and he also lost some time to the back of Searle; eventually coming over the line in third spot. “In the first race Tommy and I opted for the inside gate for the first left turn and Jake had spotted a grassy section on the outside that hadn’t been rotivated so he pulled the holeshot from the outside,” he says. “Tommy wasn’t making much of the track and I was just behind him and I actually made a small mistake which ended my race in terms of trying to pressurise those guys. Tommy also made a mistake and I ended up crossing the line just behind him. My hand felt great and definitely a lot better than it was at Matterley. The circuit was more forgiving but we are definitely on the way with the healing process. It is a bit sore now but we’ll get some more treatment and will have to ride through some discomfort.”
For the second and final race and watched by a gaggle of ‘Simpson Army’ supporters trackside Shaun got into a position where he was leading the moto.
“In the second one I slotted into second behind Tommy and he was checking-out with speed a second a lap better but then he crashed again and Jake also fell off so I had a bit of breathing room,” recollected Shaun.
“With two laps to go I felt like I had it under control and the win in the bag,” he continued. “I would have had the overall but then had this moment with a backmarker and it was a move by this guy I would never have pre-empted. I hit his back wheel and ran off the track and that allowed Tommy to get back in the lead. I charged back and hit the waves section faster than I had done all day on the last lap but it was all in vain.”
Second place meant third overall for Shaun who maintained his podium streak and a 16 point lead in the championship standings. “A bit of a shame,” he evaluated. “It would have nice to have stood on the top step of the podium in front of the home crowd. I only lost five points in the championship today but I was one lap from gaining one point; so a bit to think about. At Desertmartin last time I was off the pace and today I was where I needed to be. It was good to be back and fighting at the front. It was great to see all the Scottish crowd and people I hadn’t seen for a long time. I really enjoyed today and I’m looking forward to getting back to the practice track and getting ready for the next round of the British.”
With MXGP on hiatus ‘24’ can now look ahead to round six of the domestic campaign on 17th July at Blaxhall in Suffolk.