Shaun Simpson always offers an insightful look at hot topics and this exclusive MX Vice interview from the Grand Prix of Czechia is no different. Following a successful return to the world stage, Simpson reflected on everything that occurred and explained just how much he is looking forward to the upcoming event in Belgium. There is a lot of information to digest below.
MX Vice: You are back! It has been longer than most people realise I think, but you have kind of slotted in right where you were… Speed-wise at least. Conditioning and all of that needs a bit of work, but time practice was good. Speed in the motos was good. It was all positive. I don't think there is anything to worry about or anything negative to focus on. I think this was solid, as far as returns go.
Shaun Simpson: Yeah, it was. I was out for a lot longer than I expected. Not actually off the bike at all, just really away from racing, which was a bit sh*t. I think it has been a decent return. I'll be honest, I focused a lot more on getting ready for next week than here. With the British Championship kind of down the spout and I was not in the top ten in the world championship anymore. I missed five races with not going to Indonesia as well, so just decided, "Look, a nice way to end the year off would be to be in the ‘Nations team."
I wanted to ride good at Hawkstone Park, which I nailed, and I want to ride good next week. I just want to show that I am a really good sand rider. That is kind of what I am focusing on at the moment. I would be stupid to not just focus on two or three individual races now rather than being eighty percent on everything. I think this weekend I did struggle a bit. Not with speed. Like you said, that was surprisingly good. In time practice yesterday I nailed a lap, came around and thought that it was alright. It was one of those ones where you are kind of like, "That was okay."
Everyone was just giving the five fingers on one hand and you think, "Fifteenth? That is not too bad." I was fifth. I was happy with that, then I just struggled a bit today fitness-wise. I have just not been doing much in these conditions. [I have] been blasting around in a lot of sand. The set-up on the bike for sand tracks has been great. I cannot remember the last time we did a day of testing on a track like this though, so underprepared slightly and bothered? Not really.
I had quite a good weekend and am going home with a mega smile on my face, with a little man on board and the wife in tow. It is like, "Just make sure you are safe." That is a big part of it now. There have been so many injuries again this year. You have just got to get through it. You have got to get through every weekend. I think I have let myself down this year with a small couple of injuries: Hawkstone Park at the beginning of the year and then my hand at Blaxhall. It's just a bit frustrating.
You say you are focused on proving that you are a good sand rider. Is that not a bit of a kick in the gut to say? Do you need to prove that you are a good sand rider? I know you are. I would hope that everyone else would, but then I guess motocross… There are short memories and all of that.
Yeah. I think it's not so much just proving that I have been a good sand rider, that I still am and that I am still up there. We are going into the 2019 Motocross of Nations and the best team should be selected for that weekend. Just because I won a GP four years ago does not mean that I am an automatic pick. "Phone Shaun off the couch! Let's get him in because he won a GP five years ago." That is stupid.
I just want to prove that I am one of the fastest guys in the sand in Britain at this moment in time. If I do what I want to do next week, then I would like to hope that I would have a good chance of being on the team. I think I said to you guys last year that the end of my career is coming. I would like to do two or three more years in Grands Prix. That would be fantastic, but the Motocross of Nations slots are going to be few and far between now and towards the end of my career. I was gutted not to be on the team last year or on the team the year before.
If I can squeeze on this year, because it suits me well and I am a good sand rider, then great. Get a painted lid. Get the red, white, and blue on. Go out there and do a bloody good job for the team. That is all I want to do, really. Like I said to you, that would be a massive highlight to the end of what has been a little bit of a flat year. It started off with a lot of promise, top ten in the world and leading the British Championship. I really felt that we could seal those deals and just let myself down a little bit. Imagine a podium at Assen if I was on that team. A f**king great year.
You say you were gutted not to be picked the last two years… You really did get the short end of the stick, because you have been on a lot of fourth-place teams. Then suddenly, by chance, you are not on the team and we have got a third and then a lucky third, which just proves how unlucky you were not to be on the lucky team.
Yeah, but you got to take those on the chin. The guys rode good. Matterley [Basin] suited us a little bit with the rain.
It would have suited you too.
Well, it would have, but at the same time you have still got to go and do a job. This is motocross. Anything can happen. I am well aware of that. It is just one of those things where I just feel that I was a good candidate for those teams. I wasn't selected. That is just the way it goes. I think I am a good candidate this year. I've put in the work. There have been no questions about me focusing on Lommel and the possibility of going to Assen. I am ready.
I had a few texts with Mark [Chamberlain] and we will just see. I'm not sure when he is going to select the team or when he is going to think about it, but we have got a few good guys. It's just a shame that Ben [Watson] sort of came back a bit too early in Indonesia and put a little hole in his season, which he did not really need. Adam [Sterry] rode good today. We have got good guys. That is a positive thing.
A two-part question on Lommel. You are clearly very ready. What should we expect? People tend to get excited about you coming into Lommel. Do we need to get excited? This is your first MXGP back, although you have obviously been riding for a while. Do you feel like your race fitness at this level may come into play next weekend though?
Goal for next week is top fifteen.
I reckon we have got that in the bag.
I like to get excited myself, but you have got to be realistic. The guys that have been riding a whole season, physically they are in good shape. I have got no questions about Jeremy Seewer, Romain Febvre, [Gautier] Paulin… All those guys ride good in the sand. I just want to be in there and mix it with them. I think if I can get out to a decent start and cruise around, in the top five or top six… I am not thinking "Amazing, let's go for podiums." If it happens then fantastic, but I'm not getting carried away with myself.
I genuinely think that motocross is a strange sport and that I have done a lot of riding. I was only off the bike two or three weeks in the sand, as I said. I feel good in the sand physically. I came this weekend not really set-up properly, as I haven't done a lot of hard-pack, and the muscles you use are different from riding sand. I was quite knackered at the end of that second race.
I'm pretty sure I am good for two thirty-minutes motos next weekend. I think that is all that I need to know, that the prep is in for that. It's going to be tough. Everyone is going to hate it. Everyone is going to be sweating. Everyone is going to be hanging at the end of the motos, but if you are that little bit less hanging than the guy in front of you then you can try and make moves.
Every single rider I have spoken to has said this is the roughest Loket they have ever seen. Do you think that helped you a bit today? Maybe a bit more technical, as opposed to speedway every other year?
Not sure. I think it probably would have helped me today if it had been a bit smoother, purely because I was struggling a bit with my suspension this weekend. I just couldn't find the correct set-up. We went right back to where I was at the beginning. We went with what I had in France, what I had in Portugal and just nothing was working. We went for some other weird set-ups for the motos today and I just didn't really feel like it worked.
A speedway-style track might have helped me in that respect, but it was good to see some bumps. There's always one fast way around here. It doesn't matter how bumpy it is and how many combinations there are on each turn. There is one real quick way to ride it. I always say it is so easy to lose time around here, but so hard to make up.
Your deal is up this year, finally, but you are happy with the team. Everything seems to be going well. It definitely suits you, but your deal is up. I guess that is on your mind a little bit.
Yeah. It was and it still is. We have had a few good chats within the team. I would like to say that they have been quite happy with what I have done. We have learned a lot. It's easy after being in MXGP for over fifteen years that I kind of know what I want, but at the same time you have got to sort of gel with your team and let them know exactly what you want and how to sort of form the right sort of package around you.
I think it would be stupid to sort of start looking elsewhere and really just grab something that is going. Work on what we have got now and go into next year. The team is quite happy to try and work something out for next year. I am too. That is my first port of call. We will see where it goes after that.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX