One of the more picturesque areas that the FIM Motocross World Championship visits, Pietramurata, was last weekend’s destination for the Wilvo Virus Performance KTM team. Although rain threatened to turn the hard-pack circuit into a quagmire, good weather prevailed and created optimal conditions for race day.
Shaun Simpson showed an admirable amount of tenacity in the MXGP qualifying heat, which took place in miserable conditions. A fall on lap one left him in a difficult position, but he put his head down and continued to charge towards the front. Another small fall wasn’t enough to hold him back, as he made two passes on the last lap alone to cross the line in 11th. His lap times throughout the 20 minute stint indicated that he belongs higher up the field.
A poor jump out of the gate in moto one saw Simpson get squeezed out and things then went from bad to worse when he was slowed by one of the incidents during a hectic first lap.
After slotting into 12th at the end of lap one, he then engaged in a series of battles with factory stars. Although he ran as high as ninth at one point, he eventually just missed out on a spot in the top 10, finishing 11th.
A much better start in the final moto of the day set Simpson up well at the start of the 30 minute moto, as he ended lap one in ninth. He featured in multiple frantic battles through the early laps, and matched the pace of those around him, until he got caught up behind Jose Butron on the one-lined track and lost some crucial time.
He bounced around in the lower half of the top 10 following that and after gaining and losing some positions, he crossed the line in a respectable 10th.
Thanks to a consistent scorecard eighth overall was where he ended up on the day and is also where he sits in the championship standings.
“Saturday went quite well,” said Simpson. “I felt quite decent on the track, which was deep and rutted. The heat race didn’t actually go to plan; I got a mediocre start and then fell off twice. I felt really good though, as my pace was high and good enough for a top five. I came out of Saturday with some positives.
“This [Sunday] morning the track was like a different place and started getting dusty in warm up. I’ve just been struggling with my set-up for the last couple of weeks actually. The first race didn’t go to plan at all; I was just struggling the whole moto for lines, set-up and technique.
“The second moto went a lot better, but it still wasn’t what I was looking for. I feel like I should be inside the top six. I’m slightly disappointed with an 11th and 10th today for eighth overall.”
Adam Sterry battled through a mediocre start to pass a large amount of riders and end lap one of the MX2 qualifying heat in 15th. In torrid conditions, he was one of the few riders to make forward progress and ended up chasing a spot inside the top 10. Although he missed out on that by a handful of seconds, finishing 13th.
Sterry lived up to his reputation as a fast starter in the first of two MX2 encounters on Sunday, as he rounded turn one comfortably inside the top five.
Again showing onlookers what he’ll be capable of once back to 100 per cent, Sterry resided in fifth for a large part of the moto. A handful of established stars snuck past him as the laps wore down and he was just beaten to the line by Aleksandr Tonkov – a former moto winner – taking the chequers in eighth, which is a career-best race result in just his second round since returning from injury.
Sterry was eager to get another good start prior to the second and final MX2 moto, but a crash just seconds after the gate dropped thwarted his efforts.
As Ferrandis cut across Tonkov, he hit Sterry and Sterry clipped Anstie’s back wheel, sending Sterry crashing to the deck. With a nasty cut on his lower back and cuts and grazes up his arm he elected to withdraw from the race.
The eighth in moto one still gave him enough points for 16th overall, which was significantly better than his result one week ago. “It was an up and down weekend for me,” said Sterry. “I felt good all weekend, but the timed sessions didn’t show it. In the qualifying race I went in between gears, so came from pretty much last to 13th. The first race was good too, as I ran with the top boys for a good while. I made a mistake on the final lap just before pit lane, which cost me seventh.
“I was then very lucky to walk away unscathed from the crash at the start of the second race. This is only my second race really, so we will keep working hard and moving forward.”
Team boss, Steve Turner commented: “Another mixed weekend! Shaun’s been struggling a bit to find the perfect set-up and it’s costing him a second a lap which is making the difference between running with the top six or not. He’s working hard and I’m sure he’ll find his top form soon.
“Adam was impressive in the first race, his start was excellent and his pace throughout the first half of the race was really good. Unsurprisingly he dropped off a bit as the race wore on but the fact that only riders of the calibre of Seewer, Anstie and Tonkov made passes on him showed how well he rode.
“Obviously we were all hoping for a similar ride in race two but it wasn’t to be. I’m not in the slightest disappointed, just relieved that he wasn’t badly injured. It was a bigie and he’s lucky to have walked away from it.”
There is now a break in the FIM Motocross World Championship calendar, but Wilvo Virus Performance KTM will return to domestic duty next weekend at the historic circuit of Hawkstone Park.