Monster Energy Yamaha saw Shaun Simpson battle for a podium position and record his highest finish of fifth overall in just his second season in the premier MX1-GP class at an overcast and rain-hit Uddevalla for the Grand Prix of Sweden. 22,000 spectators came to the ninth round of sixteen in the FIM Motocross World Championship and the furthest trip north in Europe for the series. The Swedish dirt was slippery and difficult to attack after inclement weather through the weekend but Simpson was able to shine in the conditions.
The Briton was drafted into the Rinaldi-led section of the team to steer the full factory YZ450FM vacated by Steven Frossard in the wake of the 11 championship runner-ups recent knee operation. The former British Champion and reigning Belgian Champion made a bright start by fighting for third position in Saturdays qualification heat and equalled a career-best fourth place at the flag. It was a sign of the speed to come.
On Sunday he followed team-mate David Philippaerts in fifth position for half of the moto. The Italian suffered a crash over the rutted table-top jump in the middle of the track and the impact unfortunately led to an initial diagnosis of fractures to the wrists he broke last summer. The former world champion went to hospital to have further scans and an indication to the full extent of the damage. Another examination will take place in Italy tomorrow. Simpsons subsequent fourth position represented brighter news for the team and the Scots highest MX1 race finish to-date.
In the second moto the 24 year old made a great start and his form on the drying and technical course placed him in firm contention for a maiden MX1 podium finish. It was while 24 was in third spot that he hit a long rutted section of the track in a different gear and briefly slipped to the ground. He quickly remounted and held fifth position for the rest of the moto to secure the same ranking overall.
Monster Energy Yamaha now have another brief respite from the spotlight of the FIM World Championship before facing journeys to Latvia and Russia on July 15th and 22nd.
What can I say? Coming into this weekend I guess it was a bit of a surprise that I switched awnings but it was a move that suited everyone. Unfortunately David got injured today so it looks like Im the only rider at the moment on the YZ450FM. From my side it was easy to come over and Fred has done a great job getting the bike ready for me. I feel comfortable, fast and safe. I dont think I could have expected much more from today. Almost a podium and Strijbos was riding very strongly in the second moto but to come away with a 4-5 was good enough and I was riding well enough to deserve it. Im looking forward to the rest of the season and this is something really good to build on. I made a good start in the second moto and thought can I hold it? and before I knew it I was pulling away with the top two and I said right, lets get stuck into them but I think it will take me a couple of weekends to get back into that mindset of running with the leaders. I was racing out there with a smile on my face.