The Wilvo Virus Performance KTM team returned to the UK this past weekend for the first round of the 2016 Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship, supported by Pro Clean, which was held at the historic circuit of Lyng.
Shaun Simpson hasn’t finished outside of the top two in a moto at domestic level since the end of 2014 and he kept that remarkable streak in tact yesterday.
Taking advantage of the full 30 practice and qualifying session, Simpson logged his fastest time right at the end when the track was at its roughest. The 1:59.700 time that he recorded gave him second gate pick heading into the two motos, which obviously left him with plenty of choice.
Although Simpson didn’t appear to have the best of starts when the first moto got underway, he made a handful of quick passes to move into the runner-up spot early on.
His intensity right out of the gate has served him well so far this year and it did again in this one, as he was able to claim the lead on lap two and then take advantage of the clear track ahead.
A battle for the top spot ensued shortly after, however and Simpson, who wasn’t quite feeling one hundred per cent and had to relinquish his grasp on the top spot to eventual winner Tommy Searle. When the 25 minute moto concluded, he crossed the line in second place.
Simpson again got pinched off entering the first turn in the final MX1 moto, but pushed forward to move into second early on.
But Searle had already established an advantage by that point. Although the Scotsman attempted to give chase, he elected to settle for the runner-up spot on a day where he was not at his best.
A brace of seconds left the defending champion second overall and unsurprisingly in the same position in the series standings.
There are still seven rounds left to run, with the next one set to take place on April 24 at Canada Heights. The third MXGP round, the GP of Europe at Valkenswaard, is next up for Wilvo Virus Performance KTM.
“Obviously I wanted to get off to a good start at the first round of the British Championship,” Shaun Simpson. “Coming in with the red plate, after winning the championship last year, I was looking for a solid weekend and hoping to pick up a couple of race wins.
“This morning I didn’t really feel 100 per cent out on track with the setup and the way I was feeling; I didn’t feel I was concentrating as well as I could have.
“We tried a few different changes during qualifying and managed to post the second fastest lap time, which was two seconds down on Tommy. I already felt like I was a little off par.
“In the first race I got out to the lead early on and led a couple of laps. Tommy passed me, went about his business and pulled away. I didn’t really feel like myself, like I could hit the lines and marks that I wanted to. I basically had to settle for a second place, which wasn’t a disaster.
“We made a lot of changes to the bike in between races with the hope that we could redeem ourselves, as we still had a chance at the overall win.
“The changes were somewhat better, but not really what I was looking for. I just didn’t really feel like I was hitting my marks again.
“I was a bit disappointed with that to be honest. Overall, we had two seconds on the day and the team are behind me. We’re ready to work hard this week and try to get back to full capacity for the next one, which is Valkenswaard. It is one I’m looking forward to and am expected to do well at. A 100 per cent Shaun Simpson will do well there, but we just need to make sure that the 100 per cent Shaun Simpson turns up.”
Steve Turner said: “It wasn’t the weekend we were hoping for. Shaun picked up a bug in Thailand and was really sick for three or four days and it’s probably taken more out of him than we had expected.
“He was definitely below par and just wasn’t feeling it. Fair play to Tommy – he was riding really well but we want to be battling with him wheel to wheel if we’re going to come second, not be off the pace.
“Anyway, in the circumstances we have to be happy with second place going into round two at Canada Heights in five weeks time. In the meantime, we have a week now to get Shaun back to peak fitness in readiness for the GP at Valkenswaard.”