The top privateer/satellite team in the MXGP FIM Motocross World Championship is keen to hold onto both their principal star and promising talent for another consistent and factory-defying season in 2015.

Hitachi Construction Machinery KTM have helped Shaun Simpson reach fifth in the premier class and assisted 16-year-old Ben Watson to win two motos and finish fifth in his very first attempt at the competitive EMX250 European Championship this year.

The British set-up is one of the most successful on UK shores after Grand Prix podiums with Kevin Strijbos in 2012 (and previously Simpson in MX2 in 2008) and British crowns with the Scottish ace, Strijbos and Eliott Banks-Browne. Natalie Kane even celebrated her first grasp of the red place in the FIM Women’s World Championship this year until her title plight was ended by injury.


Team Owner Roger Magee acknowledges that the team need to retain their two principal athletes with both Simpson and Watson poised to move up a level in terms of performance and goals on the orange equipment in 2015.

“We want to push on further from what we have now but it all depends on what sponsors and support we can find,” the Irishman says. “Sometimes it can be about the ‘chicken before the egg’ because you have to gamble on signing riders and then hoping the backing will arrive. There are talks to be had with our sponsors Hitachi for a bigger scope and also Revo both technically and financially so we can start to fit pieces of the jigsaw.”

“We want to stick with Shaun after what he has shown in MXGP and try to give him a bit more in order to make that next step,” he added. “Ben can move up to the next level and MX2 and I feel that he has to. At his age there is nothing to gain by spending another year in the Europeans. We would not put any pressure on him and he’d have a year to learn all the tracks. He has a lot of talent and we want to nurture that…but so do some other people! We have the opportunity to match any offer up until September 1.”

While the consistent Simpson has become the first rider for the team to capture trophies in both Grand Prix classes and can only look towards more podium finishes in 2015 on the John Volleberg-tuned 450SX-F there is concern over Watson and whether MX2 Grand Prix could be too much too soon for a rider who has only just finished his first European term.

The team had a similar situation with James Dunn in 2013 when the youngster shone on European level and then sunk with barely any points in MX2 GP. “I think James had some signs of a mental block that year,” says Magee. “He couldn’t put the whole package together to be competitive. I don’t think it was a confidence thing. All riders are so different and tackle situations in different ways.”

Magee also insists that there could be a place for 2012 European Champion Mel Pocock who is negotiating a low-key first year with the team, his first on KTM equipment. While Pocock has shone in Britain and is in contention for the championship, Grand Prix has seen the Brit struggling to regularly penetrate the top ten.

At 22 years of age he has one more year in MX2: “Mel has shown he can compete in GP and is one of the top riders in the UK. He is not out of the reckoning by any means but he knows he needs to step it up on the international stage.”

“The ethos of the team has always been to try and bring on young British talent,” concludes Magee. “We’ve had some examples where we have taken other riders because the circumstances have presented themselves or choices were limited but I think we can be excited about the options we have for next year and the future.”