More ‘bittersweet’ feelings in what was something of an encapsulation of the racing season at the 2016 Motocross of Nations in Italy as Shaun ran to 6th position in one of two motos at a packed Maggiora today and suffered a mechanical issue in the other outing.
On what was his sixth appearance for his country – signifying he was one of the three fastest off-road motorcycle racers in the UK – Simpson helped the team comprised of Tommy Searle and Max Anstie to seventh in the final classification.
A hot and busy Saturday saw a well-prepared Maggiora layout carve into some testing ruts and bumps. Line choice was on offer but there were also fast and very hard-pack sections to the Italian course. On Sunday the bulk of the 85,000 weekend attendance figure crowded into the circuit and created a vibrant atmosphere as the sport’s flagship event went down to another dramatic finale.
Riding in MX Open Simpson made a reasonable start in the first moto against nineteen other nations and mingled with the MX2 class. He spent much of the race coping with rear brake fade and trying to pass Belgium’s Jeremy Van Horebeek, which he achieved on the last lap to seize sixth spot. In the third and final sprint of the day – and along with the MXGP bikes, so a field of 450s – Simpson had a poor start and was coming through the pack until his chain derailed; frustratingly his second DNF due to a mechanical problem from the last three Nations.
“It was nice to have a great first race and if I could have passed Van Horebeek then I feel I could have gone a bit further,” he said. “I felt like I was riding well and my lap-times were coming down all the time. The second race was a wrench. I had the outside gate pick – which I couldn’t complain about too much because there were holeshots coming from there all weekend – and I never made it work for me. I made a few good moves in the first turns but then [Pritt[ Ratsep went down in front of me and I got tangled up with him. I was outside the top thirty and managed to get up to outside the top twenty after two laps and I felt strong and I could have charged on. I knew the track and was moving forward but it was all in vein when the chain went; the second time in three years but two different chain brands and two different teams. Bit of a shame really to finish the weekend on a bum note. I’ll try and take the positives and I don’t think it would have changed the outlook much for Team GB.”
“Max slipped up this weekend, Tommy rode good in the second race not so much in the second, I rode well in the first and had a disaster in the second…but our pace was a little off to make the top five and luck wasn’t on our side.”
“Anyway, ending the year healthy, getting married, new team and new outlook for next season.”
Maggiora represented Shaun’s last ride for the Wilvo Virus Performance KTM and closure of the 450SX-F for the last time.