With many great Italian partners and some very significant results (the Italian MX1 title last season, first ever MX1 podium in 2009) on Italian soil, the LS Honda Racing squad is always looking forward to visit the boot-shaped peninsula. Shaun Simpson, who is currently 14th in the MX1 World standings, will enter the ultimate GP of the season with some great recent results under his belt. Shaun recorded another top-10 finish at the GP of Europe last weekend. The MX1 rookie also proved he has the speed to match top-five riders when he gets a good jump from the gate. “It has not been an easy year for me,” says Simpson, “but my strong qualification in Gaildorf, where I was again fourth like I did in France, gives me the confidence that I can race with the more experienced guys. So in a way it’s a shame that the season is coming to an end! Still Fermo is the last Grand Prix and I want to try to make it the best of the year.”
Shaun will be joined by guest rider Marvin Van Daele who previously wildcarded at the GP of Limburg where he finished a credible 13th. Now working from under the LS Honda Racing awning Van Daele, who is a former Dutch MX1 vice champion, will be focusing on his preparation for the MX of Nations in France where he will be competing with the Belgian team. While Marvin is no longer a full-time motocross rider his professionalism and passion for racing is still as strong as ever. Van Daele also has a huge experience riding the Honda CRF450R. We caught up with Marvin right before his Italian GP weekend.
What’s your goal this weekend? Marvin Van Daele: “I had quite a regimented and specific preparation for the GP in Lommel and that paid off. Although my shape is not as good as it used to be when I was a GP rider I felt it was a good example of what I’m capable of. Especially in the second moto when I finished 11th ahead of a bunch of some factory riders. Obviously this was on a sand track! But Fermo is a great build-up for the Motocross of Nations in St-Jean d’Angély because the soil is pretty similar. I can get used to the speed and the racing against those guys. For the Italian GP my expectations are pretty low. I’m sure I will enjoy racing in Fermo because it looks like a cool track but equally I feel that I’m going to need some time to adapt to that kind of track. All the track time that I can get is a bonus now.” Will you be using the vacant bike of Ken De Dycker this weekend or at the MXoN? Marvin Van Daele: “No, my bike will have the look of the LS Honda Racing look but it’s the same beast I have been using in the Belgian Championship. I feel very comfortable on my bike and switching bikes takes some time to get used. I’m sure it would be interesting in terms of sheer performance but my style is totally different from Ken so I’ll stick with what I’m used to, also for the Motocross of Nations.” On one hand there’s an unprecedented number of injured riders in the Belgian selection. On the other hand you where picked in front of some other strong riders and you already showed your speed this year getting some top-fives in the Belgian Championship and riding well in Lommel. You must have some mixed emotions? Marvin Van Daele: “Absolutely, obviously I realize this would never have happened when Clément, Steve, Ken and Jeremy would be fit. Still it’s a dream to come true to represent my country and it feels like the icing on the cake to do the Italian GP and the Nations because my level was pretty good this season. I won the European Motocross of Nations twice before now to be picked again by Joël Smets for Team Belgium is one of the highlights of my career!”
Why did you quit GP racing?
Marvin Van Daele: “At the end of 2007 I switched to the Teka-Suzuki team ran by Bodo Schmidt. I felt this was a great opportunity to make the next step in my career to move into the top 10 in the MX1 World Championship.I had a great winter and my pre-season looked very promising. Unfortunately I picked up the Epstein-Barr virus, like with so many riders who suffered Epstein-Barr it can be very tricky to manage your training load. I tried everything I could to regain fitness that season but it didn’t work out. Even in 2009 it took me some time to recover. After that it’s really hard to get back into the game, especially with so many young fast kids knocking at the door. (smiles) I’m a hobby rider and a family man now so my priorities in life have shifted! However I still like to do well when I race although it’s in the first place about having fun. And I still enjoy training and keeping in shape. Motocross remains an important part of my life so I’m happy to share that with my family.”
Belgium was second at the MXoN last year. The number of non-GP or non-AMA riders in the leading Motocross of Nations teams is obviously very, very limited. I can see some similarities with fellow Honda rider Brad Anderson who was selected for Team Great Britain.
Marvin Van Daele: “Now, that I come to think of him I don’t feel so lonely! Because obviously the best riders are in GP’s, but that doesn’t mean that there are no other fast guys out there. Even more so in his case because the British team didn’t have all the injuries we have. Being compared to Brad is not so bad, he’s also a very determined rider, just like me.”
Factfile Marvin Van Daele
Race machine: CRF450R
Date of Birth: November 10, 1981
Birthplace: Izegem, Belgium Hometown: Mol, Belgium Length: 1 m 74 – Weight: 74 kg
Nicknames: Smarry, Flying Postman GP Racing number: 60
First race: 1990
Grand prix debut: 1997 Belgian 125cc Grand Prix – Neeroeteren Best MX1 moto: 3rd, 2005 Namur (Belgium) Best MX1 overall: 6th, 2005 Namur (Belgium) Best MX2 moto: 4th, 2004 Ballykelly (Ireland) Beste MX2 overall: 7th, 2004 Bellpuig (Spain)
Best 125cc: 5th, 2003 Lierop (Netherlands)
2011: currently 7th Open Belgian Championship, Leader in Challenger Trophy (Honda)
2010: 10th MX1 Open Belgian Championship, 8th in MX1 Dutch Championship (Honda)
2009: 4th MX1 Open Belgian Championship (Honda) 2008: health problems (Teka Suzuki-Bodo Schmidt)
2007: 16th MX1 World Championship, 3rd Open Belgian Championship, 2nd MX1 Dutch Championship (Shineray-Honda)
2006: 16th MX1 World Championship, 12th Open Belgian Championship (Shineray-Honda)
2005: 18th MX1 World Championship, 5th Open Belgian Championship (Shineray-Honda) 2004: 18th MX2 World Championship, 5th Open Belgian Championship, UEM MX of European Nations winner (MTM Suzuki) 2003: 13th 125cc World Championship, 8th Open Belgian Championship, UEM MX of European Nations winner (Massant-KTM) 2002: 22nd 125cc World Championship, 13th Open Belgian Championship (Massant-Yamaha) 2001: 3rd 125cc European Championship, 40th 125cc World Championship, 11th Open Belgian Championship (Massant-Yamaha) 2000: 7th 125cc Belgian Championship (Massant-Yamaha)
1999: 7th 125cc Belgian Championship (Massant-Yamaha) 1998: 15th 125cc Belgian Championship (Massant-Yamaha)
1997: Coupe de l’avenir winner, 10th 125cc Belgian Championship (Massant-Yamaha)
1996: vice champion ADAC Junior Cup (Massant-Yamaha)