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Viewpoint: Shaun Simpson

It was rather strange when Shaun Simpson missed the MXGP of Lombardia with a hand injury last year, as he has been a model of consistency throughout his career. The Grand Prix contingent have grown accustomed to ’24’ not being on the starting line this season, however, as multiple injuries have put him to the test.

MX Vice: Just give us an update of where you are at currently. I know you had the cast off, so what is the recovery time looking like? What have you been through since that Grand Prix?

Shaun Simpson: This one has hit me a lot harder, in all honesty, but not just because of the injury, the recovery time or anything like that. Most of that was in the same sort of ball park, so I was looking at roughly six weeks with my finger. I’m going to be at six weeks before I can get riding again with this one. The surgery was a little bit more invasive this time. The recovery time, like I said, is more or less the same, but this time I felt like it just really hit me a bit harder, just purely because it was the second consecutive injury within six or seven weeks. It just seemed to hit me a lot harder. Just to get up in the morning and keep motivated to try and train through when you have got a cast on or keep going to the gym and things like that.

For a couple of weeks, it was getting to me that I was having to go through this whole scenario again. I have pulled out the back of that really strongly these last ten days and I’m really back to it. I’m feeling really good and strong. Getting the cast off was obviously a major part of giving me some freedom again. You may have seen my little blog where I just got a brace, so now I can take the brace off whenever I want to take a proper shower and things like that. I can start working on physio and things that I have been doing for the last ten days – that sort of gets your spirits up. If you have got a cast on all the time, it starts getting you down.

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Shaun Simpson's first blow occurred at the MXGP of Latvia.

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Basically the movement in my wrist is getting a little better. I’m just really waiting for the bone to strengthen up. That is what the surgeon is going to be looking at. On Monday or Tuesday after Loket I’ll go back for more x-rays – that is the four-week mark. He should be able to see if there’s any calcification on the bone, if it’s healing up well and give me a more in-depth look at when I should be coming back on the bike. I’m really hopeful for six weeks for that.

Other than that, I have just been keeping busy and trying to keep myself occupied with training and things. With the break in the season over the last couple of weekends, with there not being any racing apart from the Dutch Masters, it has kind of felt a bit boring otherwise. Like I said, just trying to keep myself occupied really.

Obviously, the first injury was your hand and then this one is your arm. There were no complications between the two, right? This one didn’t impact the way that healed?

No. The only thing I would say is I was making good progress with my finger. I’d lost a fair bit of mobility in my finger, plus the finger surgery, and I was just starting to get that back. Now obviously having to cast up my whole hand and wrist, as I said, all your tendons run down where they have actually opened it up to put the plate on my radius. That has sort of hampered my finger and recovery as such, because I was not able to do the same sort of physio work on my finger until last week.

All the tendons, basically they are going under your wrist. That is where all the big muscles, tendons and everything run through for a lot of your finer movement. It has hampered my finger and the ability with it but, as far as strength and stuff goes, I’m going to need to work on all of that again anyway, because I’ve got a twelve-year-old’s arm at the moment. It’s just been in a cast and it just looks really, really muscle wasted. I’m still going to take another few weeks to get up to where it needs to be.

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Simpson is one of only six guys to win an overall this season.

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I guess if there is one good thing about these injuries, it is that you can still cycle and keep training like that for the most part. That in itself cuts the recovery time a bit.

Definitely. You’d be amazed, actually, at how good it feels just to turn your blood around again in the first turbo-trainer session or spin-bike cycle. I know that sounds like you would never be able to feel it, but you can actually feel the blood going into your hand. Just getting on the spin bike and doing a little bit of light spinning makes a massive difference. Then after, out with the road bikes, things like that. That is all stuff that I can do. I’m relatively back to normal. Had it been a leg or a foot, then you are obviously crutches. You cannot really cycle, so you are a lot more restricted on what you can do. I can even already do some rowing and things like that. It is a relatively decent injury to have as far as keeping yourself in shape.

I feel like these injuries probably would have hit you harder if you had not had that first moto in Latvia. I felt like that one moto kind of lifted the spirits and confidence. Is that how you feel?

Yeah, definitely. Obviously the two pinpoints of my year were Indonesia and Latvia, as sad as that sounds. It gives me real motivation to know that when I come back I can do a good job if I’m feeling up to it and stuff. I know to come back and be there straight away speed-wise, it will be difficult or it could be difficult, but it has given me the motivation that the bike set-up is good.

The way we have been working with the new team and everyone, everyone has pulled together and done a great job. I really did feel in a good place in Latvia. It is just a shame that this happened like that and then happened again with my wrist. It is a bit tricky, but I think you pretty much nailed it. The fourth place in Latvia, I’m hanging onto that knowing that was possible. Had I been riding right up until now, I’m sure results like that wouldn’t be difficult for me to have.

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Simpson will unfortunately miss Lommel, a round he won in 2015.

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Have you got one event circled on the calendar as the aim for your comeback or are you just taking it as it comes?

I think we are taking it as it comes, but there is obviously real intent to be back and properly ready for Assen. I should actually technically be at the six-week mark and riding around Lommel time, so the middle of the week after the Belgian MXGP. It is a shame that I’ll miss Lommel, but that is roughly when I can start riding again. That gives me a good four to five weeks to be ready for Assen. I could potentially go to America. We talked about that though and said that we would make that decision a bit closer to the time and see how we are feeling, see how the speed is and things like that. It is quite an undertaking to go to America from the team’s side, especially as there is not much to fight for with my championship position at this point.

If I’ve only got four or five weeks to get ready, you nearly lose a week going to America. The time that you lose flying there and adapting to the time difference, then you hang around, do the race, hang around and fly home. It is like the Wednesday before Assen before you start feeling back to it, so you could maybe get one day of riding in. It might be worth my while waiting at home, being properly ready and just really trying to go for it in Assen. That is no secret. I want to come back and do well there. That is the ultimate goal, but who knows? I might be back before then.

Does this injury impact your plans for the 2018 bike? I guess if everything was going well you’d be on it and testing. So, when you get back on the bike, would you jump straight on that and begin testing or would you just keep going with the current bike to find that same level of comfort you had in Latvia?

I think a bit of both, really. I think Arnaud’s tested it. A couple of other riders, I know Romain has rode it as well, just to get some initial feedback. They’re obviously in America now as well. I think Cooper Webb has ridden it and tested it. Worldwide promotion is going on with the 2018 as well at the moment. It’s just testing to get ahead for next year. If I’m feeling comfortable on the 2017 bike, as I was at Latvia, then we have a great base to sort of build the 2018 bike on. It is nice to have that real back-to-back to go back and forth to say, “Okay, this works. We know this works in race conditions.”

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American fans may potentially see '24' in action at Gatorback.

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We can then really try to work around that to get something good and solid to ride on the 2018. I think if we can do that then we’ll be in a great position come winter time and coming in ahead of next year, rather than just starting to develop and try things in October. I think I’ll probably do a bit of both by starting again on the 2017 bike and then doing a bit of testing on the 2018 bike. We’ll see where we’re at and just go from there really, but mainly testing the 2018 at the moment.

Finally, the Motocross of Nations. I don’t know if you saw the interview that I did with Mark [Chamberlain] last week, but he said you were a bit of a long shot. Do you see yourself as a long shot or do you feel like you need to be looked at in the same way as Dean [Wilson], Max [Anstie] and the others?

I’d love to say what I have said before and deep down I do believe that I can bring something good to the team. I do believe I’m still a worthy candidate. I’ve taken a good look at it. Let’s say if everything goes to plan and I come back strong, then I feel like everyone would say, “Shaun would have been a good candidate.” That would be nice to hear but, at the moment, deep down I probably do know that I will be a long shot. It is sad to say, because when my injury struck the first time in Latvia I was probably doing results worthy of getting a spot. Not easily, but I was probably a stronger candidate to get a spot than I have been in the past.

This is something that I just have to accept. I only want the British team to have the three strongest riders at that point. You don’t have to be smart to see that Max has been riding pretty comfortably at a good pace for a few weeks now. Dean’s been working away quite consistently in America too. There is the obvious MX2 role that only a few guys can actually fulfil, unless Max jumps down. He’ll probably have the option. It’s a tricky one to call.

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Racing the MXoN at Matterley Basin would be a highlight for Simpson.

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I would still like to be considered, but I’m not sort of masking the whole picture by thinking that I should definitely still be in the team. That is not the case at all. I’ve nearly missed two and a half months of the season, so it wouldn’t be surprising to me if I wasn’t picked. It still would be nice to get back, obviously ride strong and feel like if there are any mishaps with any of the other riders at that point I could jump straight in as a real solid candidate.

I think that is only a good thing, if Mark has got a difficult decision, because then that means he has got three, four or five good guys to choose from. That can only be a positive as well in his position. Don’t get me wrong: Whatever team he picks there is always going to be drama and chatting going on, but all anyone wants to see is the team do a great job. When’s the next time it is going to be in the UK? We don’t know.

We only get these chances come around like… Tommy rode back in 2006, I think, and that was the last time it was at Matterley. It would only be great for me to be able to achieve that in my career as well but, as I said, it could be a long shot, but I just have to see how things go. There are still a lot of races to go between now and then. Either way, I’ll be looking forward to it.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Yamaha Racing

MX Vice Editor || 25