First and third positions in two exciting, emotional and celebrated races on the sand of Lierop in the Netherlands today meant that Shaun Simpson became the first British winner of an MX1 Grand Prix since 2007 and took his largely-stock JK Racing YZ450F to the top step of the podium in the FIM Motocross World Championship for the first time in his career.
The 25-year-old Scot is a long-time and popular member of the paddock and his superlative skill in the sand as well as refined set-up and feeling with his motorcycle meant he was an unbeatable force in the very last MX1 fixture before the category switches to ‘MXGP’ for 2014.
The final act of the 2013 FIM MXGP story took place on one of the hardest racing surfaces with the Lierop sand providing its usual physical and technical test. The bumps and berms of the terrain made difficult work for the riders who tried to maintain the highest rhythm possible with the minimum of mistakes.
Simpson, who has been catching the eye with some determined performances in recent rounds, pushed his way into second place during the qualification heat on Saturday and started to eat into Tony Cairoli’s lead. The Scot made a few small errors and then settled on a personal best position for the start gate of the Grand Prix motos.
On Sunday his good form continued. Two bright starts allowed him to be at the front of the field early and he attacked the terrain with a confidence and vigour that hardly anybody could match. A duel with Cairoli in the first moto was decided when the Sicilian fell with only two laps remaining.
Already overjoyed with his first moto victory in his third season in MX1 (and the second of his career after previously winning a race in the 2009 Grand Prix at Valkenswaard in MX2) Simpson roared away from the line in the second moto and his enthusiasm initially appeared to get the better of him as a small crash cost him the lead and put him down to eighth place. From there #24 fought back and took part in a thrilling battle between five riders for second position and Simpson had to make sure of third place to ensure the overall win, which he did by beating Ken De Dycker.
Simpson’s achievement delivered Yamaha’s first win of 2013 and his 45 point haul pushed him up to 9th place in the championship standings for the year.