Interview: Shaun Simpson
Shaun Simpson finished a credible tenth place in the MXGP world championship this season in a very deep field of talent and won yet another moto in the sand – at Assen in Holland. The flying Scot yet again proved himself as one of the most consistent performers in the championship and, once again, a leading contender in the sand.
But for 2017 Shaun has switched manufacturers to Yamaha and has been recently getting to grips with the blue machine as he starts his preparation for the 2017 season early.
Our friends over at Station MX where kind enough to send us over this Shaun Simpson interview. You can read the interview in French here.
You’ve now had your first day on the Wilvo Yamaha, how do you feel on the bike?
Shaun Simpson: It’s been really good, I’ve rode a KTM now for three years so it was quite a big change to get back on the Yamaha with the aluminium frame. It was only positive comments from the beginning, the engine was very strong, it turns really well and the suspension was set up from the beginning very well for me. After some tests and changes of some small things I feel really comfortable and at home on the bike. I am really looking forward to more testing and making the bike perfect for me.
What’s your program before the MXGP World Championship starts in Qatar?
Shaun Simpson: My program from now is to basically start training and testing. Today (16th November) has been my first test on the Yamaha at Saint Jean D’angely. After this we will do some testing in the sand in Belgium and Holland but the weather isn’t so great there at the moment. After that I will be going back to Scotland to put lots of hours in on the bike to really build up my bike fitness. We have a few more tests planned before the New Year, after the New Year we will go to Spain or Italy for more testing and bike time. We will start with some pre-season International races, hopefully two or three races to help us get in shape ready for the first GP.
You have been able to win sand GP’s over the last few seasons – with Herlings moving up do you think it’s going to be possible to win one next year?
Shaun Simpson: Yeah, definitely. I think next year we will see the most GP winners ever because Herlings wants to win, Gajser wants to win, Paulin has a new challenge, Cairoli wants to show again that he can still win GP’s. I still believe that with the right setup and the right team behind me, like I feel that we have a great crew behind me at the moment. I still feel that given a good day, the correct setup of the bike and if I’m feeling well then I still think I can win GP’s, yeah, no problem.
You are very strong in sand, what do you think you need to do in hard pack to improve and battle for wins?
Shaun Simpson: I think the biggest thing with me is that because I live in Belgium I need to train more in hard pack tracks, I need to travel to France or to Italy and just do more bike time, more training, more hours. When I practice a lot in the sand, for me the sand comes easily and its second nature to me. When it comes to the harder GP’s it’s not so easy to train away from Belgium, it’s a lot of kilometres to go to France but I think that’s what I need to do, I just need to train more and more on the hard tracks and build up my speed day by day. After I do that I think I can also be close to the front at the hard pack tracks in the GP’s.
You seem disappointed with tenth last year but overall would you say you’re speed was far off your 2015 season when you finished fourth in the series? There were far less injuries in 2016.
Shaun Simpson: Yeah, I think that last season, 2016 was tough. I had a small injury in my hand, I had an allergy when I came back from Thaliand so there were a lot of small things that happened during 2016 that didn’t happen in 2015. In 2015 I had a really nice comfortable season, two or three of the good riders got injured so I steadily kept going up, up and up. Whereas the 2016 season was more difficult for me to stay on a good direction the whole season, I was a little bit up and down with a few things. I also struggled with my bike setup but overall I felt that when I was riding well that the speed was just as good as 2015. The class was just a little bit more packed with good riders for the entire season so it was difficult to finish fourth and fifth. You could maybe finish second or third and then in the next heat you would be tenth. It was a difficult season but I am motivated to change some things for 2017, already with the bike, the crew, training techniques and ride more on the hard pack. Overall, I want to make myself a better rider for the new season.