Simpson strengthens fight for top-ten ranking

September 09th 2016 | by James Burfield

The Wilvo Virus Performance KTM team tackled a man-made facility for the second consecutive week as MXGP held their penultimate round at Charlotte Motor Speedway, on the east coast of the USA. Even Hurricane Hermine could not put a dampener on the action that was enjoyed by thousands of enthusiastic fans.

MXGP Qualifying

An abbreviated schedule greeted riders and teams on Saturday morning following the cancellation of the Friday programme with the qualifying race being abandoned in favour of a timed session. Shaun Simpson showed speed in the MXGP class, which featured various high-profile wildcards, but struggled to turn that into a clean lap as various issues halted his progress. Simpson would eventually end up with the sixteenth gate pick for the motos, which would take place beneath floodlights.

MXGP Moto One

 Although the concept was applauded, the Charlotte Motor Speedway circuit made it difficult for riders to make up time across a race. That made life difficult for Simpson in the first of two motos, as he started sixteenth and then had to rebound after having a close call through the high-speed section of waves. Although a handful of small issues hindered him along the way, he salvaged a fourteenth and ended as the top British rider.

MXGP Moto Two

The second moto started positively for Shaun Simpson, as he sat on the verge of the top ten and showed the speed necessary to advance through the field. A peculiar problem with his back caused him to slow, however, and settle for thirteenth after giving way to Kevin Strijbos and Tommy Searle. Although there was the potential to achieve more at the MXGP of Americas, Simpson still held onto his top-ten ranking in the MXGP series heading into the grand finale at Glen Helen in a week’s time.

Shaun Simpson: “I wasn’t unsatisfied with my pace in the first couple of practices, but in the first race I had a couple of issues; one with damage to the bike in a coming together with another rider and one with my kit. That held me back a fair bit, as I had a little slip off as well. Fourteenth in that one wasn’t amazing, but in the second one I was riding really good until halfway. I got some sort of bad stitch in my back and I had no idea what it was. Something was a bit strange there, so I basically threw the handbrake out and was not going anywhere fast. We have a few things to work on for next week and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we’ll hold onto tenth in the championship and even ninth is still possible.

Team Manager, Steve Turner: “It turned out to be a pretty tough weekend for Shaun. The track was very fast and everyone found it hard to make passes, so getting a good start was crucial.  He had a couple of near misses, especially when he over-jumped the spine jump after breaking his brake lever in race one but he stuck to the task and maintained a decent advantage over Strijbos in their battle for 10th in the Championship. It’ll be interesting to see how Shaun goes at Glen Helen next week as we didn’t get to see much of him there last year after he crashed out on the first corner of the qualifying race and took no further part in the weekend.”

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