Shaun Simpson of the Wilvo Yamaha team, currently 13th in the MXGP point standings, continued to be that guy just hanging on the edge of the main group, waiting to join them. As he could be so much better.
“For sure,” Simpson said. “I always think the first two or three GPs it’s hard to come out swinging like Herlings and Cairoli. You are building, and you get stronger, and faster and you start attacking the track, so your bike also needs to improve, so the team needs to be on it, improving the suspension and the power and you need to go in the right direction. I felt in the past that second group, I was with them early, but would lose ground at a point in the season and then I am the first of the third group. I always felt I should have been in that front group and now I am there, and it feels like I belong there, and I think I will stay there.”
A solid off-season has helped Simpson come in fit and strong for the 2018 season, and after more than a decade at the top level, it isn’t a surprise he sometimes needs to take a rest and just enjoy being a normal person.
“Physically and mentally I am in a much better place. We went off to New Zealand and I just cleared my head and my wife, and I just relaxed. I feel like every aspect of my life is dialled now. It’s all rolling nicely and it’s easy, gym, cycling, racing, practice starts. I just know everything is done and I want to go even faster.
With 17 rounds still to be run, and still a lot of travelling to places like Indonesia, the Yamaha rider knows that he has time to climb back inside the top five in the series points.
“Looking at the long series, I am definitely here for the long haul, and I always planned to be in that position, I just feel like the base is really good. I have just been there, I haven’t felt once that I was off the pace, like I needed to find two seconds or something. That is a testament to the way we approached our off-season and how we have worked with the bike, taking it back to a nearly stock 2018 450 Yamaha and started building it up from there. Last year we grabbed the bike, threw in some suspension and really changed it before I had even ridden it.”
Now onto Italy, and Trentino, where the fourth round of the MXGP championship will be played out. With 11th, 8thand 10th positions from the last three years at the circuit, you can count on Simpson looking to improve and hang with that top group.