Fourteenth overall for Shaun through the sand of Valkenswaard in Holland for round six of nineteen in the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship and an event where two small slips in each moto scuppered the Scot’s chances of joining the frantic battle for podium positions.

The Grand Prix of Europe represented the 29 year old’s first sandy meeting on the YZ450F for the Wilvo Yamaha crew and Shaun paid for two errors across a cold weekend at the Eurocircuit south of Eindhoven that largely determined his classifications on the fringe of the top ten.

“A mistake in both motos counted against me: a crash in the first one when Arnaud [Tonus] hit me – for whatever reason – and I stalled it in the second,” SS24 recounted. “We lost a lot of time and it was difficult to make that up, everyone in the top ten-twelve were on the same sort of lap-times. There wasn’t much in it, which is weird for a race around here.”

Shaun worked on trying to catch Max Nagl but was unable to improve his standing beyond a 12-13 scorecard as the sand drew an unusual level of parity in a contest that sees arguably the best line-up in the premier class in the modern era of the sport. “Everyone is looking for tiny pieces of seconds here and there,” Shaun added. “These are some of the best factory teams in the world and someone like HRC are working during the week to look for gains during the week, so if we don’t do that and continue to improve then we’ll fall behind through the course of the year.”

Simpson is still searching for the optimum set-up with the Yamaha and information at Valkenswaard will prove beneficial for the soft soil of Kegums, Latvia in two weeks and other sand races at Lommel, Belgium and Assen, Holland later in the year. In the meantime the former British Champion needs to keep doing his homework.

“I wasn’t overly happy with my set-up and we changed a lot this weekend to find improvements and we made some in a few areas but we’re still lacking in others,” he explained. “Overall it is about gaining information and working on the negative parts of what has been going on these last three weeks.”

“We need to make some gains ourselves and I feel like I rode my bike to its full capacity and still didn’t have enough that I was happy with in terms of my pace,” he went on. “We need to look at the areas of the package of engine, suspension and mapping and work on each individual part to move forward.”

Shaun is currently 11th in the MXGP Championship standings with the trip to ex-Motocross of Nations venue Kegums next on the calendar.

Photo by Ray Archer