British Champion and MXGP’s fourth best rider – Shaun Simpson – will run factory KTM support from within the confines of the Wilvo Forkrent KTM team next year.
The 27-year-old was in the unique situation of earning major race victories for the Austrians with 2015 and 2016 450SX-F machinery this season when he conquered Grands Prix in Belgium and Holland respectively. Apparently Simpson will partner another Brit, Adam Sterry, who will embark on his first full term in MX2 in ’16.
Simpson was set to stay in orange after reaching a career-high peak in terms of results in 2015 and since becoming Grand Prix’s most successful and high profile privateer in 2014 and as part of the Hitachi Construction Machinery Revo KTM set-up.
With Steve Turner’s team enjoying tighter links with the factory in Mattighofen and Simpson earning admirers from high up in the KTM organisation it seemed an obvious fit.
The Scot was apparently the target for both Suzuki and Husqvarna at one stage but was comfortable with KTM’s support and their ’16 race motorcycles that he used to take fourth place at the AMA Unadilla National and also claim MXGP spoils at Assen. He won his second British crown in a row after remaining unbeaten in the UK.
For Turner his recruitment of the most successful rider in Britain is made with the hope that he can turnaround the fortunes of one of the most presentable satellite teams in the paddock. The crew have had misadventures with former Grand Prix winners Jonathan Barragan and Steven Frossard for the past three seasons and have also been extremely unlucky with Jake Nicholls suffering three injuries that have largely kept him on the sidelines.
“Shaun is a rider I have long admired. He’s professional, likeable and a good ambassador for not only the sport but whatever team he is with,” said Turner when asked for a comment. “I’m buzzing about next year already and I know that we can offer him the support and resources he needs to reach the next level.”
Simpson, who is based in Belgium for parts of the year and the Wilvo Forkrent KTM workshop is just over the border in Holland, will still compete for Roger Magee’s Hitachi crew when he makes an appearance at the Supercross Paris-Lille in November. He is expected to start testing with his new team in December.