After two diverse Grand Prix to open the 2015 FIM Motocross World Championship Shaun is now making the final preparations to his 450SX-F – namely strapping a red ‘1’ plate to the front – in anticipation of the first round of eight in the Maxxis British series this weekend at Hilton Park, Wolverhampton.
The Hitachi Construction Machinery Revo KTM rider travelled home from the suffocating heat of Nakhonchaisri in Thailand this week where a cautious run to twelfth overall in MXGP continued his points-scoring priority in what will be the longest Grand Prix campaign in the fifty-eight year history of the sport. Tenth in Losail, Qatar and then handicapped by a luckless qualification day in Thailand, Simpson has been efficient without being spectacular in the FIM openers. Now tenth in the world and with a solid base to start infiltrating the group of sixteen factory bikes in the premier class, Simpson can think about getting back to winning ways in Europe. The Scot claimed a podium finish at the Valence International and then won the LaCapelle Marival International the following week before jetting to the Middle East and the straight onto Asia.
Defying the effects of the time zones on Tuesday and having practiced on Wednesday Simpson now makes the relatively short trip from his Belgian base to the Midlands where he hopes to extend his domestic competition supremacy. This weekend ‘SS24’ will start a bid to add a third British Championship to his list of accolades.
“I was telling someone recently that there is nothing better than having that on the CV,” he said to UK publication ‘TMX’ this week. “When you stop you want to look back and think ‘what did I achieve?’ I think those championships mean a lot and it means something to people. I was Belgian Champion as well. Maybe they can be viewed as small things but they are something to be cherished and I have the set now; the 250 and the 450. What makes this year a bit special is that I have never come along to do a full championship after winning one. In 2009 I just came back for a couple of rounds to get some speed up.”
“This time I am going to run the number one plate. ‘24’ has been good for me and I’ve kinda built a brand around it but I thought ‘why not?’ It creates more of a buzz, looks better and whips up a bit more attention,” he says. “I’m not expecting this year to be a walk in the park by any means. There are a lot of good guys but I’m looking forward to getting to the first round with that red ‘No.1’, which is a first for me, and some hard racing.”
Importantly it will be the first time since the fog and cold of the Hawkstone Park International that Shaun, who turns 27 on Friday, will be able to get up-close with his hefty UK fanbase. As reigning British No.1 and the UK’s top rider in MXGP Simpson is hoping for a good showing before thoughts turn towards the Grand Prix of Argentina at the end of the month.