With two overall MXGP wins, Shaun Simpson’s confidence has skyrocketed in 2015. Photo by: Ray Archer
Shaun Simpson is currently riding the crest of a wave that is showing great results and GP victories. The Scottish rider had won in Lommel and Assen, and finished a solid fourth in the Unadilla round of the AMA Nationals. He also podiumed in Mexico last weekend and goes into this weekend USGP at Glen Helen with high hopes of adding to his GP victories.
We caught up with Shaun and asked him about the AMA versus GP battle, and also the chances of Team Great Britain at the Monster Energy Motocross of Nations at the end of the month.
Shaun, you have ridden both in Europe and America this year, and it’s a question we always want answered. What is your opinion of the whole AMA vs FIM thing?
I think the world championship on a whole is a great series. Whether or not I think I think it should be a one day series, I don’t know. I did like it in America that everyone came on the Saturday and then they got to go home Saturday night. 18 rounds in Europe is spread over four days as we arrive the teams arrive Thursday, the riders Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and that takes a lot out of you. When I first started doing GPs you actual qualified on the Saturday, back then you came through Saturday and thought, ok, I got that out of the way and am through to Sunday. Now if you have a bad qualification you think it’s just my gate pick. Apart from the crowd seeing some racing on the Saturday it’s a little of a nothing day.
How about which series has the faster riders?
Let’s talk about MXGP and the 450 class in America. I think they are equally as good, the depth of field if everyone is fit in Europe is better. I liked racing in America, and I was impressed with it, but if you see some of the top riders over there, names you see all the time, I was a little surprised, because if you look at the results some of them got, or the lap times they did, then maybe those guys are not as good as we actually think.
What’s the difference with the tracks? They are clearly totally different. Our series has a mix from hard-pack, to deep sand, but they really do have some beautiful facilities in America.
I think the difference between Europe and America are the tracks, and if you take a guy from Europe and put him in America it takes longer to get used to it and visa/versa and that is why the des Nations is so difficult for those guys, because they are riding tracks they are not used to. I know the types of tracks in Europe are fast and hard pack, and I talked to some riders over there and they said they wouldn’t be interested in riding those types of tracks. They feel it doesn’t look technical and a lot of hard slick places, American riders don’t know those conditions and it doesn’t seem to appeal to them. In America the jumps are not as big as they look, and I was amazed how easy they are, and while I am not the most technical jumper I can do big jumps. The way they prepare the tracks in America is slightly better. For a rider the tracks become more rutted and technical. But in saying that, I know a lot of the new breed MX2 guys, and I talked to one in Maggiora and he said to me he was confused because there were too many ruts and he didn’t know where to go, he preferred they flattened the track. I thought to myself surely that is what motocross is all about (rough). Choosing a line, picking a rut, making a better decision than the guy in front of you. I believe the tracks can be prepared the same way (America and Europe), and I think they want to prepare them that way, but the facts are we might not always have the right track team doing the job. In America they rip the track a meter deep and in Europe three or four inches. Also the volume of bikes on the track at the GPs, it burns the track out a little bit. I mean this isn’t something I said for the first time. As far as answering your question, I wouldn’t say what is better or what is worse, it’s like this unknown thing that we will always have our views on. I think the Americas are equally as fast, but the European guys are not hanging around either. I think the only way to find out is to have the best from both series racing on the same tracks and then we would find out.
I think Ryan Villopoto racing in the MXGP series really showed how tough it is to move from USA to Europe and the other way around. There is no doubt the speed of both series riders is at a high level and swapping series is tough for everyone, maybe even tougher now than ever.
You could take the Villopoto case, even if he came with 80% or 100% or whatever, he came here and he got more pressure from guys, and it wasn’t what he expected, and I even had some battles with him and I expected him to blow us away. It’s hard changing from one series to another. It’s good for motocross that we have these questions that we really can’t answer.
Motocross of Nations. How can Team GB do in Ernee? Podium or are you guys going there to win?
I think we have thought for long enough we should get a podium, it’s been too long. I feel like I let the team down last year, not that it was any fault of my own with my machine breaking. Max and myself are capable of winning GPs, and I think both of our speed is up to scratch and Max won in Loket so he can ride hard pack no problem. I believe the most important rider in the team is the 250 rider and last year Tommy did a great job. The 250 guy has to fight with the 450 and that’s tough, and I think Max will be strong this year. I feel with Dean being picked, it’s the best choice. He has had two or three months on the bike and he will be strong enough to finish two good moto’s. With Tommy he hasn’t had a good year and personally I think he has come back to quickly. He had a lot of injuries this year. It’s been a bad year, but Tommy hasn’t missed the MXoN for years and I hope he heals up for next year. Going into Ernee, good starts and solid moto’s and a podium is possible. I want us to go in with an underdog mentally and give it everything you have. I think we have the capability to win this thing and stand on the top step, but you need some luck on your side and last year we had bad luck, so hopefully this year we can get it done and enjoy it and if we do that something good will come. The British crowd are waiting for a good result, so it would be nice to give them that.