It seems that too often a rider goes unnoticed after posting some good, solid results, which exceed the expectations of most. Shaun Simpson, and his performance at the GP of Qatar is a perfect example of this. In his debut ride on the Ricci TM, it seemed as though most were unsure how the machine would perform. But, his results at the weekend show that the TM is competitive, and capable of putting the Scotsman in a position to secure some solid results.
Although Shaun’s overall result seemed to suffer, because of a lackluster result in moto two (fourteenth MX1 rider in the ‘Super Final’); it was actually his performance in the first moto, which caught my eye. When Tommy Searle soared over the Losail finish line in moto one, he had Shaun Simpson just two seconds behind him in eighth. Simpson did seem to be buried right around the top ten for much of the race; however he got better as the race progressed, which meant that he very nearly came close to stealing seventh from Tommy. Okay, I thought that he would be good aboard the TM. But, I don’t think that anyone expected him to run a similar pace to Searle.
But, the fact that he was able to remain consistent with his lap times for the duration of the first moto meant that he was right there in the end. In fact, the lap times of Simpson in that moto did not vary much at all. For the most part he stayed in the 1:51 to 1:52 second range, right until the final lap when he posted a 1:52:416. Even his section times didn’t really alter too much over the course of the moto; everything indicates that he had a good, consistent ride. I was also impressed with the fact that he moved forwards in both moto one and the ‘Super Final’, despite the track being very one-lined.
In that ‘Super Final’ the combination of a bad start, and a track that was very hard to pass on meant that Shaun Simpson was buried down in seventeenth. However, when the individual MX1 classification was revealed Shaun had a fourteenth to his name, which left him in tenth overall (8-14) to kick off the 2013 title campaign.
I do think that the winners, and the format change overshadowed a lot of the riders in Losail. But, in the coming weeks when the format reverts back to normal, rides like this from Shaun will get recognised a little more. There are loads of positives that he can extract from the result; clearly both the TM and himself are capable of finishing well inside of the top ten. His fitness is on-point also; he only got better as the motos progressed. However, as I stated prior to the season: it will be the starts that hurt Shaun this year. But nonetheless, his speed is good and he actually exceeded my expectations; he most definitely flew under the radar.
‘Under the Radar’ is a new weekly feature on MX Vice that focuses on a rider who had quite a successful weekend, but slid under the radar and went unnoticed by most.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Youthstream/Massimo Zanzani