Multiple-time British champion aims to put injury-hit 2020 behind him

The last full interview I did for DBR was with Shaun Simpson back in March. At the time he was self-isolating at home in Scotland with his family and while we touched on COVID, neither of us could have predicted the s**tstorm that was on its way.
Just over seven months later, I caught up with the multiple British champion and GP winner. The pandemic may have seriously disrupted motocross around the world but it’s been a run of injuries that have made 2020 a washout for him.
“My own personal year went from Coronavirus and the bad situation with that to worse with my crash in Latvia and my further crash when I was training at Lommel and broke my back,” he said. “After lockdown we were preparing ourselves, we went back to Belgium early and really put loads of effort into trying to be ready for this short, sharp, end-of-season push with all the triple-headers.
“So we went to Latvia feeling really prepared. We had plenty of time to get everything organised within the team and I felt physically fit and ready to go.
“Unfortunately, from the get-go in Latvia I didn’t feel 100 per cent comfortable and I ended up having a coming together with a rider in the first race which badly bent my front disc and ultimately resulted in a DNF.
“In the second race I was so relaxed and in control and the track just bit me. I was ejected off the side and really battered my ribs and gave my head a good knock and wasn’t able to ride for a good couple of weeks.”
To make the championship viable MXGP promoter Infront Moto Racing had been forced to condense 16 rounds into just 13 weeks and the intense schedule left no room for recovery so, as the boss of his SS24 KTM team, Shaun took an executive decision.
“With three races in a week there was no room for any small injuries. We had to try and stay 100 per cent fit the whole time and I was being realistic by deciding that I wasn’t going to be able to ride.”
Shaun’s comeback was earmarked for four weeks later at the MXGP of Italy at Faenza but a big practice crash in Belgium brought his season to a premature end.
“Before Faenza I was starting to feel pretty good again, my aches and pains were almost gone and then I had a really freaky crash at Lommel. I think everyone must know how many laps I’ve done around that track but I just hit something a little bit wrong, went over the handlebars and landed pretty much vertically on my head. I’ve never broken my back before but within a second of the crash I knew that I had – I heard the vertebrae crunch.
“I was laid up in hospital for five days with a broken hand and two broken vertebrae which weren’t as stable as I was first led to believe and that’s why my recovery has taken a lot longer. I’m still wearing a neck brace and I’m eight weeks into my recovery.”
It’s worth remembering that at the start of the season Shaun was showing great speed – he finished fourth in his last moto before lockdown, running down and passing Red Bull KTM’s nine-time world champ Tony Cairoli at Valkenswaard in the process – so it’s understandable that he’s still filing the world championship under unfinished business.
“I haven’t had a good enough crack at it this year to say I’m going to throw the towel in at MXGP and focus on some British races – that’s not for me right now. I really want to give it another crack. We’ve got two full race bikes sitting ready to go, our workshop’s all dialled in and ready for action and I’ve got some loyal sponsors who are staying onboard for next year, although I’m still looking for new sponsors.
“I just picked up my bikes from KTM yesterday. I feel like I’m very organised with regards to my team set-up. All my sponsors have been very faithful and loyal to me this year and I really thank them for that.
“So it’s full speed ahead! I’m really motivated and honestly can’t wait for the start of the New Year but there are so many uncertainties right now. I don’t believe it will be a normal championship. I think we’ll be looking to get going in April or May or even the start of June but we won’t know until we see something concrete. Whatever, I need to be ready for all scenarios.”
Shaun’s fans have only got to see him in action in the UK twice this year – his heroic ride at the Hawkstone Park International where he lost the overall on a tie-break to Jeffrey Herlings and the MXGP of Great Britain – and the good news is he’s planning to be around a lot more in 2021.
“My contract from KTM is to do the full world championship and the full ACU British championship. Everyone knows that I like to do a race or two and if there was an MX Nationals before both of those championships started or if there was a free date between rounds then, yes, I would come and race an MX National.
“I looked at doing one this year but my injuries dictated that I couldn’t but I was looking at the events they were putting on and they were getting some really good turn-outs – there were some top-class riders and great racing. Ultimately, 90 per cent of my sponsors are British and to get them some coverage in the UK is my end goal.
“The British fans can definitely expect to see me next year for a minimum of the British championship and any international races and if there’s a free weekend and the MX Nationals is on then count me in for that. I may even race in Scotland one or two times – it all depends on how the calendar’s put together.”

Shaun on…
Running races!

“You can’t knock MXGP for really trying to bash a series out,” said Shaun. “I really take my hat off to them. I’m not pointing a finger at the ACU but the MX Nationals managed to run a series, the MXGP championship managed to run and I really take my hat off to people like that.
“The ACU not deciding to run? I don’t know what was behind all of that but I would have really liked them to try and run some sort of championship this year but it never happened.”
 
 
 
 
 

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