Suphan Buri makes an inauguration on the world stage with the fourth Grand Prix of Thailand visiting the new venue north of Bangkok and where Shaun ran to ninth position in the qualification heat today held in forty degrees temperatures.

Humid and demanding conditions (sun and a rough and rutted track) faced the MXGP elite today in the second round of eighteen. Shaun was pleased with his feeling on the Wilvo Virus Performance KTM 450SX-F and set the third fastest lap-time in free practice. Tenth in Timed Practice was down to misjudgement and judging the best time to push for a rapid circulation. Working on overall set-up and his approach to the two heavy motos on Sunday, the British Champion left the circuit encouraged by his potential.

“The times in practice didn’t really reflect how I am feeling and riding,” ‘24’ said. “I made a mess of the Timed Practice and didn’t get a clean lap in. I think the organisers have had to take it on the chin today with the track and the preparation because ripping and watering has made it rough but was a necessary step to stop it becoming a total dust bowl on Sunday. I think it will be in good shape for the motos and the riders had a meeting on Saturday afternoon where we made some recommendations.”

“It is a new build and the main problem seems to be that the layout is ripped in places and untouched in others. It means a real patchwork of terrain and if those hard parts are watered then it is perilous.”

“We had a little problem in the qualification heat but otherwise it went pretty well and I definitely feel some benefit for staying in Thailand this week and getting used to the heat. Two more top six starts and aiming for the top five will again be the goal and to continue our start to the season.”

The first MXGP moto can be caught at 07.00 CET, 06.00 GMT

Photo thanks to Ray Archer

1. Ben Townley (NZL, Suzuki), 24:39.205; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:03.512; 3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:05.459; 4. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:13.490; 5. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:20.501; 6. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:25.259; 7. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:29.967; 8. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:35.794; 9. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:37.280; 10. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:38.030; 11. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:45.703; 12. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:50.283; 13. Valentin Guillod (SUI, Yamaha), +0:52.650; 14. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Honda), +1:09.673; 15. Kei Yamamoto (JPN, Honda), +1:21.723; 16. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Husqvarna), +1:35.505; 17. Alex Snow (GBR, Yamaha), -1 lap(s); 18. Chaiyan Romphan (THA, Yamaha), -1 lap(s); 19. Thanarat Penjan (THA, Honda), -3 lap(s); 20. Milko Potisek (FRA, Yamaha), -7 lap(s); 21. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), -8 lap(s); 22. Tanel Leok (EST, KTM), -10 lap(s); 23. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), -12 lap(s);