The Wilvo Virus Performance KTM team, consisting of three-time GP victor Shaun Simpson and rising talent Adam Sterry, enjoyed a successful winter that left confidence high entering the opening round of the 2016 FIM Motocross World Championship. The Qatari desert was the setting for the event, as it has been for the past three years.
Adam Sterry immediately showed potential in the first MX2 practice session of his full-time MXGP career, posting the 10th fastest time. The session that followed wasn’t as kind to him however, as a mistake on a challenging jump led to a broken wrist. Adam will head home tomorrow, with recovery expected to take five to six weeks.
“I was really well prepared and excited coming into this weekend, the first round of the MX2 and MXGP world championship,” said a disappointed Sterry. “I had no injuries and a really good off-season.
“Free practice went well and I managed to post the 10th fastest time, but I went out and mistimed the double in the middle during time practice. I came up short with the front, didn’t crash and carried on riding but immediately new there was something wrong with my wrist so rode back to the pits one-handed and it was then that I realised it was broken.”
After setting consistent times in the two practice sessions, Simpson went to the line ninth for the first qualifying heat of the new season. He chased the reigning world champion, Romain Febvre in an intense battle, after starting seventh, and moved up a spot in the early stages.
In the following laps the Scotsman both lost and gained positions, which eventually led to him finishing eighth. That gave him a reasonably good gate pick for the main motos on a start that was relatively fair.
Simpson found himself in amongst a battle immediately in the first MXGP moto, as he ended lap one eighth and was surrounded by factory stars.
Although the track was quite one-lined and tough to pass on, he found room and immediately moved up to seventh. As the race wore on he found some good lines and made further progress at the halfway mark, disposing of Glenn Coldenhoff and eight-time world champion Tony Cairoli to break into the top five.
Fifth was where he eventually ended up, which also marked the best MXGP moto result to date for Wilvo Virus Performance KTM.
A better start for Simpson saw him end the first lap sixth in moto two. #24 stalked his opposition in the following laps, posting times that were incredibly consistent on a track that claimed more than a few of his rivals.
After giving way to a hard charging Max Nagl towards the end he had to fend off compatriot Tommy Searle on the last two laps to take seventh at the flag, which was good enough for sixth overall on the day, with just a handful of points separating him from fourth spot.
“This weekend has been pretty hectic,” Simpson exclaimed. “I would say it has been one of the most hectic starts to the GP season that I have ever had.
“Everyone seems to be really amped this year – there’s a lot of anticipation. My starts let me down a bit this weekend, but the speed was there. I still need half a second a lap, something like that, which will put us right up inside the top three. I’ve got to be pleased to come away with 30 points and sixth overall though.”
Steve Turner commented: “It was a mixed weekend for us, obviously. I’m really upset about Adam’s injury. For me, the jump itself was 99% responsible for Adam’s injury, which was pretty much confirmed by them changing it on Saturday so it was no longer possible to do the double.
“It’s dangerous enough without having jumps in with zero margin for error. It’s just unnecessary in my opinion and just like last year it cost another few riders, one of which happened to be Adam.
“Hopefully he’ll be back soon and will show everyone what he can do.
“On the flip side, Shaun was mega! He did what we wanted of him, a top six overall, which is his best start to an MXGP campaign and the best result for the team so far. The plan is to take a similar finish in Thailand which would set him up well for the season.”