The thrilling battle between Hitachi Construction Machinery KTM UK’s Shaun Simpson and David Philippaerts in both motos of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix provided some of the hottest and closest action in MXGP at Maggiora.
Simpson won the duel in Moto1 but the Italian prevailed for fifth position (and the same place overall) in the second sprint. Simpson’s 28 points however lifted the Scot up to sixth place in the world championship standings and just six points off the top five; all-in-all a career-best so far for the current British Championship leader.
Since climbing back on the KTM with Roger Magee’s crew for 2014 Simpson has been in solid form and some suspension tweaks during a rare break in the calendar last week helped hone the Volleberg-tuned 450SX-F.
His performances and progress in his fourth season in the premier class means he should be a shoe-in for a Motocross of Nations slot for Team GB at Kegums, Latvia on September 28. The ‘long list’ of riders in contention for the squad marshalled by Neil Prince was issued by the ACU three weeks ago.
“I feel that I am one of the strongest candidates,” the Scot said exclusively. “Tommy [Searle] is still coming back from his wrist injury but he will be a dead-cert. My results have been consistent and I believe Jake [Nicholls] and I would be other good choices. It just depends who will go in MX2. Max [Anstie] has yet to prove his speed again.”
“At the moment that looks like the team but there is still a long time to go,” he added.
With Nicholls new to MXGP and producing a few eye-catching rides and starts on the Wilvo Forkrent KTM (not to mention pushing Simpson hard in the British Championship) it means one of the trio that turned out for the country in Germany last year would have to consider a 250 berth. Would Simpson contemplate a 250SX-F for the first time since 2010?
“If it was a case of ‘ride that or not at all’ then I might say no,” he explained. “I’d appreciate someone asking my opinion and if I was given the choice then I wouldn’t turn down a chance to ride the Nations just because of the 250.”
“I think my first phone call would be to John Volleberg because I know he can get that 250 going good,” Simpson said. “It would be a new challenge. It is one of those things you need to know in advance and plan it well, not just decide the week before. CLS have proven 250 technology and Karro [Nicholls’ team-mate] is riding a 250 in the British Championship and there is also Mel next to me on the 250 as well. So there are options for all of us.”