British Champion and MXGP’s leading privateer Shaun Simpson has been given a boost for his wild-card appearance at Unadilla for round 10 of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Nationals in less than two weeks with Red Bull KTM providing a 2016 factory bike from the confines of Roger De Coster’s title-winning set-up.
The Hitachi Construction Machinery Revo KTM rider, currently seventh in the MXGP standings, has been a sturdy representative for the brand in the past season-and-a-half by reaching a high as fifth in MXGP in 2014, taking the British crown, remaining unbeaten in the six rounds of the current UK series and keeping his 2015 450 SX-F as a constant presence among the factory riders at the front of the premier class despite limited resources.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed in Mattighofen and when Simpson expressed a desire to try an American national this summer – funded by two key personal sponsors – he found receptive ears in the race department.
The Scot was initially going to use a 2015 standard model and work out of the BTO Sports set-up (home for Andrew Short) but will now ride Press Day at the New York circuit on Thursday prior to the race to set up a full-factory ’16 spec 450 SX-F upon which he’ll be able to add his suspension and personal stickers and still keep in the BTO awning. Crucially for Simpson the gesture by Austria and De Coster in California was part of a move to strengthen his links with the brand. The 27-year-old is hotly linked to the Wilvo Forkrent KTM team for 2016 but also has a strong option to stay with the Hitachi crew.
“It is great that he is going there and he is a fantastic rider,” commented KTM Sport Director Pit Beirer. “We are happy to support him and it is fixed on the agenda for next year that he will have heavy and great support for material [in MXGP].”
“He will have the best engine material support because what he has done out of his structure is great but we also know from the past that a switch to a factory team was difficult for him,” the German added, commenting on Simpson’s time in the Red Bull squad in 2009 and 2010 where a broken leg ended his bid for MX2 title success in ’09. “He needs that special atmosphere around him and that is how he maybe performs to the best – without that huge pressure from a factory team but for sure you need a good bike and mechanic. We will increase the direct link to the factory next year and that is why he will have good help to go to the U.S.”