LS Racing Honda rider Shaun Simpson recorded his best MX1 GP result to date when he placed sixth during the second moto of the US event which marked round three of the 2011 motocross world championship. A fall at the start of the first race spoilt what otherwise was a marked improvement in fortunes for the young Scot who has so far not enjoyed the best of luck during his debut season in the premier class.
Changeable weather conditions at the famous Glen Helen circuit in California meant racing was as tough as ever among the world’s elite motocross riders. Rain on Sunday morning made the track, which had under gone modification for the GP from its normal national format, soft and swamp-like in places. In contrast the deciding race of the day took place on a much drier and rougher surface due to the effects of strong winds and blue skies later in the afternoon. Saturday’s qualifying schedule that was conducted on a dry and fast track was not particularly to Shaun’s liking with the former MX2 British champion failing to feature in the top 10 in free practice, pre-qualifying practice and the qualifying race itself. Eventually Simpson was to finish in 13th position to at least give himself a reasonable gate pick for Sunday’s two main motos.
The inclement weather on Sunday morning was to Simpson’s favour and with slower speeds overall Shaun showed the real potential of him and his CRF450R as he went quickest in morning warm-up with a time of just over three minutes. This was a much welcomed boost of confidence for the 23-year-old who has yet to show his true form since stepping up to the MX1 class a year ahead of schedule.
Typically, Shaun’s luck was not to follow through and after making a good start in the first moto he was soon on the deck as he clipped the rear wheel of a fellow charger. Down but not out, Simpson showed great resolve as well as speed as he battled back from last to 16th to put him in good shape for his next outing.
A more successful launch in the second moto saw Simpson running in the top 10 and soon up to seventh before claiming sixth spot just before the chequered flag. This was enough to give him 11th overall and leave 15th position in the general standings.
“The morning started off good in the warm-up as I was fastest and I think that bit of rain helped me out. It slowed the track down and gave it a few more lines. I was hopeful of a good day. In the first start I was looking to get away in the top 10 and made a mess of it. I hit Frossard’s rear wheel and went down. The track was very one line and I fought back 16th which I was reasonably pleased about.
“The track was better for the second moto and I managed to find my rhythm. I felt good out there. I made a mistake but clawed back distance on Steve Ramon and when he made an error up Yamaha Hill I got him. I pushed in the last four or five laps. This is the sort of form I felt like I had in me and it is nice to show people that I can do it. There are a few smiles on faces and Brazil next weekend would have been a long trip without that second race.”