The Wilvo Yamaha MXGP squad descended on the spectacular circuit of Neuquen this past weekend, as the Argentine circuit played host to the third round of the FIM Motocross World Championship. The team arrived with a spring in their step, thanks to that Grand Prix victory at the previous fixture in Indonesia.
Arnaud Tonus made an impression immediately on Saturday, as he posted some competitive times in practice and then clawed his way forward in the qualifying heat. Tonus showed great speed whilst doing that, much like in Qatar, and eventually secured the fourth gate pick for the following day. Shaun Simpson joined him near the front too, as he qualified eighth following some entertaining battles.
A great start in the first moto on Sunday left Arnaud Tonus in a position to contend for a spot on the podium. Disaster struck just a handful of laps into the race, however, as a freak issue forced him to retire and settle for zero points. Meanwhile Shaun Simpson was making good progress following a mediocre start; he ended lap one just inside of the top fifteen. Four passes across the moto, which was more than most of the other riders in the field, left him in tenth place.
The Wilvo Yamaha MXGP duo were locked in a fierce battle at the start of the second moto and occupied positions that were right on the cusp of the top ten. A racing incident caused both guys to hit the ground early on, however, but they rebounded with some impressive rides. Tonus had onlookers in awe as he carved his way from thirtieth to eleventh at the chequered flag, which gave him enough points for fifteenth overall on the day. Simpson, on the other hand, moved from twentieth to thirteenth, despite the fact that he also stalled his machine. The Scotsman claimed twelfth overall on the day, when that result was combined with his tenth from the first stint.
Shaun Simpson now sits ninth in the MXGP standings, with Arnaud Tonus in sixteenth. The Grand Prix of Leon, which will be held on the first weekend in April, is next up for the Wilvo Yamaha MXGP team.
Shaun Simpson: “It was a reasonably positive weekend. I was a bit disappointed with the second race, going down on the first lap with Arnaud and then stalling it on the fourth or fifth lap. It was, obviously, a little bit frustrating. I didn’t really feel too great on the track when it was just qualifying or lap times, but my race craft and fitness was coming into play. My starts were a bit worse than yesterday, but I really pushed out some laps and the first race was pretty good. I came from fourteenth or fifteenth up to tenth. My speed was decent and I could see the group just in front of me, which was pretty positive.
“In the second race I went down and then stalled, which were two quite big mistakes. Looking at the lap times and lap sheet though, there were positives to take. I’m just going to keep working on what I have been doing; things are going in the right direction. We are healthy, the bike is working great and the team morale is awesome.”
Arnaud Tonus: “It was definitely a hard day, especially with the speed I had and the feeling I had on the track. I felt as though it was possible for me to be inside the top five, so it was a bit frustrating. It is a part of the sport and still I was happy with the way I rode. I just crashed with Shaun on the first lap, but I still got back to eleventh so the riding was positive. I just have to accept the result and hope for a better weekend in Mexico.”