Following a successful outing at Hawkstone Park for the third round of the Maxxis British Motocross Championship, the Wilvo Virus Performance KTM team ventured into mainland Europe for the ninth fixture on the FIM Motocross World Championship calendar.
Shaun Simpson got off to a great start in the MXGP qualifying on Saturday, as he put his Wilvo Virus Performance KTM into fourth. Despite being pressured by the reigning world champion, Simpson held his ground until a freak issue with his chain made it impossible for him to continue. After withdrawing so early on, he was given the 13th gate pick for the Sunday motos.
A poor gate pick put Shaun Simpson in an impossible position at the start of the first of two MXGP encounters and, unfortunately, he was outside of the points at the end of lap one after being tagged by Strijbos’s bike as the Belgian crashed heavily. Simpson put in a remarkable charge on a track that was tough to pass on. He sliced his way through to 11th at the finish, but could have had 10th had it not been for a small fall on the final lap that halted his charge.
Another poor start hindered Simpson in the final moto, but he was quick to move towards the top 10. A mistake caused him to drop back to 16th, but he was not done there. He charged for the duration, ran a pace that would have been competitive with those in the top six and eventually stole 10th on the final lap despite crashing again along the way. A consistent scorecard left him in 10th overall, but crucially gave him enough points to move back into seventh in the standings.
“We came into this weekend with a fair bit of confidence after that win at Hawkstone Park,” said Simpson. “Yesterday went quite well with fourth in pre-qualifying practice. I got a good gate and was running fourth in the qualifying race, before we had a technical issue with the chain on the third lap. I ended up not being able to finish the qualifying race and we had a really bad gate pick for today [Sunday].
“I managed to get two decent starts actually [on Sunday], but just made little mistakes myself on the first couple of laps. I came from outside the top 20 right up to 11th in the first race and caught Tommy [Searle], but made a mistake and had a little slip on the last lap. In the second race I managed to avoid any initial carnage on the first lap, but stalled it at the end of the second lap. I actually crashed again after getting myself into 12th or 13th, so had all of the same guys to pass again! The positives from both races were that my speed was really good, as was my fitness and bike set-up.”
After posting lap times that put him comfortably inside of the top 10 in both practice sessions, Adam Sterry again showed how much speed he possesses in the qualifying race. He started fourth and held the spot for three laps, but a small crash cost him a crucial amount of time. Sterry was quick to recover and managed to gain a position on the final lap to secure the ninth gate pick for the following day.
Adam Sterry again had a good start in the first MX2 moto and made some quick moves to break into the top five. Like the day before, Sterry looked comfortable while fighting with some of the more established names in the class until a string of misfortunate caused him to drop down the order. A crash that resulted in vision issues cost him a chunk of time, but he soldiered on and began to fight forward from 28th. At the checkers he came up just short of the points in 23rd.
Sterry had a worse start for the final MX2 moto of the weekend – finishing the opening lap in the lower half of the top 10. Although he lost a spot initially, he picked up the pace at the halfway mark and moved back into ninth. He rode a great race, with consistent lap times throughout and never looked under threat throughout the race. His ninth place finish gave Sterry 14th overall. Despite missing six rounds of the series Sterry sits 27th in the championship.
“It was a solid weekend,” exclaimed Sterry. “My speed was good throughout and I ran up front for a while. A few mistakes cost me a decent overall after crashing out of fifth in moto one, but I came back with a solid ninth in moto two. My starts were not great all weekend, but I pushed hard through the first half a lap each time and got into decent positions. We have made much more progress in bike set-up and with myself, so I’m nearly back to where I was before I got injured.”
Team manager, Steve Turner commented: “There’s a lot of positives to take out of the weekend – Shaun had some misfortune in the qualifying race with a freak chain issue which meant he had a rubbish gate pick for the races but he looked really strong and set some fantastic lap times, even coming through the field. For me, even though only a 10th and an 11th, these were his best two performances of the season on a track that’s notoriously hard to pass on.
“Adam also rode really well, he was aggressive round the first couple of turns in the qualifying race and the main races and got himself into good positions but mistakes cost him dear, however he rode the second race mistake free and got a great result, setting fast, consistent lap times throughout.”