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 Antonio 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.
Joel Roelants rounded off his season and tenure with Monster Energy Yamaha with 12th place overall. The Belgian was anxious to complete a difficult first term in the premier category on a positive note and pushed as hard as he could on the factory YZ450FM to take eighth, despite a tumble, in the first moto. The second saw him suffer several crashes and he retired from the fray. Roelants rests 12th in the MX1 points table.
Simpson will now represent Great Britain at the 67th Motocross of Nations at Teutschenthal in Germany on September 28-29th with the international spectacle set to entertain 41 countries and fans from across the globe in the traditional season curtain-closer.
Shaun Simpson: “This is definitely the best day of my career so far. I have won a race in MX2 and had podiums but I’ve never been on the top step. I couldn’t believe it actually. I changed over to Yamaha mid-season and I knew exactly how to set-up the bike from last year. We used WP suspension, which I remember well from my MX2 days and since then we have improved my engine a lot. At the moment the bike is perfect for me, especially in the sand. There was a lot going on in that second race; I crashed on the first lap, went down to eighth got back and passed Desalle for second and then Ken came back at me. It was an exciting race. When I came over the finish line I still didn’t know if I had won the GP because my dad hadn’t put the pitboard out for two laps. I was thinking ‘come on! Get with the programme here!’. It was a hectic second moto and I still cannot really express what I’m feeling.”
Joel Roelants: “Not the best way to end the season because I crashed on the second corner of the first moto and then just tried my best to make it to eighth. My start was pretty good in the second Heat but I went down again. After that I could have crashed another twenty times. I couldn’t get going and when I wanted to push I felt like I had a sketchy moment. I was so far back I believed it was better to stop. It has been a tough year and I think the team were very honest with me. It is just a shame it couldn’t have been better.” 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.