It was an early start to the season as the team descended on Hawkstone Park for their first taste of competitive racing in 2016.
The weather on Saturday was atrocious and although it improved on Sunday it still meant the riders were faced with pretty sloppy conditions.
Despite the weather, the fans turned out in droves to watch the Be Wiser Hawkstone International MX and there was a buzz of excitement and expectation as they lined the perimeter waiting for the action to begin.
Adam Sterry was first out in MX2 and looked strong, fit and fast as he posted fourth quickest. Simpson, making his debut for the team showed he meant business by taking pole position.
MX2 Race 1
Sterry made a good a start in fourth and looked impressive as he quickly moved through to second but a mistake coming into the bomb hole cost him the position and he was back down to third.
He got back onto the tail of Watson but made a mistake trying to pass him and lost ground and then clipped a back-marker over a jump and ended up going off the track, dropping him down to sixth at the finish.
MX1 Race 1
Simpson took the holeshot but stalled it in the second turn, dropping him to dead last. But he stormed through the field and as the race entered the final quarter he started to post lap times four seconds faster than the rest.
With two laps to go he was up to third and on the back of Brad Anderson but the tough Geordie wasn’t going to give up second without a fight and made himself as wide as possible. Simpson made a few attempts to pass but sensibly decided to settle for third rather than risk crashing.
MX2 Race 2
Sterry made decent start in sixth but struggled a little with the bike set-up as the track deteriorated and was hard pressed to improve his position. After swapping a couple of places during the race by the end he had to be happy withy seventh.
MX1 – Race 2
Simpson made a reasonable start in fourth before making light work of the competition to move behind race one winner, Clement Desalle. After tailing him for a few laps he made his move and blasted into the lead. Once there he looked very comfortable as he built a commanding lead. Determined to give himself a shot at a podium Ben Townley stuck a pass on Desalle on the last lap, giving Simpson a much deserved overall – much to the delight of his legions of fans and his new team.
Both riders were away in the top 10 with Sterry a couple of places ahead of his team-mate but Simpson was on the move and quickly went through into the top five.
Sterry was in seventh mid-race but tipped it over in a corner, losing a couple of places and eventually coming home in ninth.
At the front, Anstie and Herlings were building a lead after getting way ahead of the chasing MX1 boys.
Simpson made a couple a great passes to move into second but Herlings was too far ahead for him to have a chance of catching and instead he found himself having to fend off the advances of a charging Kevin Strijbos to take a well deserved second place to end a fantastic day.
A very happy Simpson said afterwards: “I had an excellent day, I poled qualifying from [Clement] Desalle and had a good start in the first moto and took the holeshot but then stalled it in the second corner like a total goon.
I tried to get the bike started again and eventually got going in 18th or 19th and worked my way up to fifth and passed [Ben] Townley and [Kevin] Strijbos to get up behind Brad Anderson but by then my roll-offs and helmet were totally clogged.
“I didn’t manage to get past Anderson with three laps to go so I thought third would be better than binning it. In the second race I got out behind Desalle and felt like I was in control of his pace. I could follow and was waiting for a mistake that didn’t come so I put a pounce on with three laps to go and managed to win.
“Townley also passed him, which meant I got the overall. It was a smart first race and then a good second one to win the event, so I was happy. Everyone did a great job within the team and I’m really happy with how everything went. It was good payback for all the hard work we’ve done in training and testing. It was great to see so many fans and the Simpson Army out in force. A good day all-round.”
Adam Sterry commented: “It was nice to get back racing and get the first race arm pump out of the way. I expected the track to be worse than it was but it ended up being really technical and difficult.
“I was happy with how I rode but had bad luck with back markers in the first race. We have a few things to test and improve on the bike and then before we know it we’ll be in Qatar.”
Commenting on the weekend Team Manager, Steve Turner commented: “Fantastic riding from Shaun, it was great to see him take the win in front of a bumper crowd.
“There were some top riders here and he showed he’s afraid of no-one. Adam looked great in qualifying and most of the first race but a combination of mistakes and a few set-up issues meant he didn’t get the results he was looking for.
“The team has worked extremely hard lately to give the riders the tools to do the job and I know Shaun and Adam really appreciate the hard work and dedication from the mechanics in particular.”