Shaun Simpson interview - Injury Update
Posted on November 18, 2020
Sometimes it is hard to imagine Shaun Simpson is in fact a veteran. Still enthusiastic and with a youthful attitude, the 32 year old, a proud family man, knows his days are numbered in the sport that has seen him travel the World and allowed him to become a multiple Grand Prix winner and popular figure in the GP paddock.
While old rivals Gautier Paulin, Clement Desalle and Tanel Leok wave goodbye to the tough grind of MXGP, the veteran Scotsman has plans to stick around for another couple of years and enjoy his time in the sport that he has loved since he was a four year old.
Having picked up an injury soon after the series got going again in Latvia in August, Simpson has spent most the 2020 season recovering from one injury or another. First a crash in that Latvia return and then again a get-off in Lommel while training dropped his chances of returning at all this year.
“I hit the side bank at an awkward angle in the second moto crash and suffered a big blow to my back but I also knocked my upper body and neck,” Simpson said of the Latvian crash. “I woke up stiff and sore this morning but also worried about a few aches internally. I know myself and my body by now to know that I wouldn’t be competitive and MXGP is the toughest I’ve ever seen it. Obviously ‘gutted’ doesn’t come close to describing how I’m feeling. I’m also disappointed and angry. I feel bad for our sponsors but I’m hopeful that MXGP will move onto the step of the calendar and we can come back in a good way.
And then, feeling likely to return for the Mantova triple header, another crash and this time damage to his neck and another trip to the hospital.
“It’s tough to find the words at the moment,” Shaun said after his Lommel crash. “It was my first proper outing to see if I felt OK on the bike and could consider returning to MXGP in Mantova when I just got caught and landed on my head. I actually felt the two bones in my back crunch, and my hand and finger as well. I’m having surgery tomorrow and I have support for my back. My first thoughts are to get well and to leave the hospital, but it is impossible not to think how frustrating this is for my racing and for the new project with the team. Right now, all I can do is thank my sponsors, my partners and all the fans and people that follow me. This is another delay, but we’ve been here before and will come back.”
So now, after a long and careful recovery, Simpson is just weeks away from getting back on the bike and as usual can’t wait for the 2021 season get begin. Working hard to get his budget together, and looking at an MXGP calendar he likes, you just know that a fresh and happy Shaun Simpson will arrive at 2021 and ready to go. We caught up with him this morning and asked him how he is doing and a bunch of other stuff.
MXLarge: Shaun, how are you doing?
Simpson: I have been good Geoff. It has been a long road to recovery, but no longer than the doctors were anticipating. Just a long time not being on my bike and not at the races. It has been nice to be at home, but I want to be at the races. After Latvia there were still a lot of races and it was strange being at home sitting at home watching the races and I couldn’t help myself, but think you needed to be in it to win it. I don’t mean the championship, but top ten places, top eights. With all the guys out had I been able to get through Latvia or Mantova, or Faenza, and stayed on two wheels I could have had a good championship finish. I am excited for next year and we will see how we go.
MXlarge: Obviously Paulin, Desalle and Leok all retired last week, Covington also, and I think more guys will follow. Some have stopped because they didn’t love it anymore or couldn’t get the money they felt they were worth, but you still love it and are riding in your own team, so you have put yourself in a little bracket that not too many guys are in.
Simpson: Yes, and you know what it is Geoff and I can speak for all of us, and maybe some of us started later on and I was probably one of those guys who didn’t start racing until I was 13, but I had been riding since I was four years old. It takes it out of you, lap after lap and tanks of race fuel, the racing and the travelling. If you still have the motivation after you are 30 and with the economy and I don’t just mean just motocross, times are tight, sponsorships are tight, teams are cutting back and COVID 19 has had an effect on sponsorship and its been a tricky one for guys to take decisions to stop. For me, with my own team, I am ready to go. I have a lot already set-up from this year and I feel like everything is set. We have two new race bikes setup and ready to ride. I see myself doing one or two more years of MXGP, then tailoring it off and doing British championship and Beach races and enjoying it a little more. I have a small child now and another due in January, so four of us travelling around in the camper for another year or two, and Angus will be ready to go to school, so it will be time to settle down. My wife Rachel and Angus they love being in the camper, so it is motivating having them on my side and if it was any other way I would have to make some different decisions, but for now we are all in for 2021.
MXlarge: You have always been sensible planning ahead and looking at the team situation. You realized it wasn’t going to work with a team, so you started your own. You also have your Dad involved which must be fun. He must have been going to motocross in the 1950s I would guess?
Simpson: He was born in 1955 (laughing), so early 60’s he was at the races. I don’t know where he still gets his motivation to drive all night to the races and he will be 65 on December 15 and he will go into his 100th race meeting next year (laughing again). He is just such a special guy and I am so thankful to have him onboard and fighting my corner since I turned pro at 16 years of age. He has been with me from the start, he wasn’t there for 2016 until 2019, he was back home with my mum and starting his own suspension business. His motivation is for me, he wouldn’t do it with another rider, and he will work from 6am until 10pm if needed.
MXlarge: I actually worked for my Dad in Australia, he had a merchandise business and I remember how nice it was working with your Dad, or your father working with his son, and there are not too many things more beautiful than that. Is that also part of the motivation?
Simpson: Yes, for sure, and it definitely has its moments, I am not going to lie. There are times with a bad result or Dad wasn’t us to do things differently. I am calling a lot of the shots, but Dad also has his ideas how we should do things. It is a special relationship and again I have mentioned Rachel, but my Mum has also been there since the get-go and she holds the fort when my Dad is away and worked three or four days a week back home. I can just take my hat off to my parents for what they did for me, and also the brother who has helped out a lot.
MXLarge: What about the team in 2021 with this whole COVID 19 going on. How are you looking for next year?
Simpson: It has been tough, and I would say if I was in this position last year, the way the economy is now, I would have struggled to get it up and running. I am fortunate that I have a lot of things sorted out and I made a lot of investments (last year) and got things up and running. I need less budget next year because of that, but it depends how it is at the start of the season. I have a lot of loyal sponsors who are in, and it looks positive, but companies might say we are good for next year, but in January and February they might change their mind. I am pretty smart that I haven’t overstressed myself with too many overheads, like a big truck, or personnel or other costs. My main thing is to put everything into having the bike and getting myself to the races, but I also understand you need to put on a bit of a show in the paddock for the sponsors. Ultimately if there are no spectators at the races there is nobody to show that paddock stuff to.
MXLarge: The calendar is out for 2021 and I really like it, with the start in Oman, and a good mix of older circuits and new circuits. What is your opinion, and will you try and do every round?
Simpson: I will try and do every round and that is the goal. I like the calendar as well, and I get annoyed when people complain about why we are not going somewhere or whatever. The calendar is the calendar and most of us know it will probably change a tweet here or a tweet there. You should be motivated to go to the places we go, and it is a tough job for Infront to make a calendar. I know what is there, but if I start saying I don’t like the calendar, that just makes me feel like I am putting a downer on it for my followers and my sponsors. People who have comments about it should keep them to themselves and if they don’t want to come to the races then don’t come.
MXlarge: I think about those two road racing facilities in Finland and Russia and the fact the Finnish round will be a sand track at such a facility. I really like that type of stuff that is a big different.
Simpson: I mean, I raced in Finland a couple of times and I loved it, and we have the Sweden and Finland connection. Two trips to Russia is tough organizing visa’s and stuff, but that track we go to in Russia is a phenomenal circuit, so these things motivate me. I like tracks with a bit of undulation, and I don’t really like the tracks that are flat. I like some sort of up-hills and down-hills and it is nice to have track with differences. I can imagine the track in Oman will be flat, but we will see what we get. I am known as a sand riding, but I like to race all the different types of tracks. Mud, sand, hard pack, blue groove, that is why we have a World championship and who comes out on top is best in all conditions. I am willing to put in the work on any circuit and hopefully I can peak in the sand and be top ten in the others.
MXlarge: Last question about the MXGP class, because it is incredible when you think of Herlings, Prado, Gajser and Cairoli. I know you are a racer and would like to win a GP or two more, and you have proven in the past you can surprise everyone and get a win, but these four, who do you think will be the guy to beat in 2021?
Simpson: I think it is interesting. I would have to lie if I didn’t say I am disappointed Tony didn’t get his 10th World title. I will admit I am a Cairoli fan at heart and although we race together for years, I like him to win. Gajser is fast and people say that he is lucky he gets away from some of the crashes he has, but these are things he works on during the week with flexibility and stuff. You also need luck on your side, and it is clear Jeffrey the last couple of years has been unlucky, but also putting himself into bad positions. Prado is so consistent and the way he rides the 450 is really nice, he would be the guy I would see doing best. Jeffrey is the fastest, but if I had to put my hand on it for next year, I would say it is Prado. You know the way he started this year, slowly because of the injury, but he was still in it and then peaked at Spain, where it looked like he did it easy. It looked like he had another two seconds in him. Tough one to call, but even after that there are guys like Jeremy Seewer, and he has been twice second in the World (in MXGP) and that shouldn’t be ignored. He had a couple of bad things happen to him this year, like that really bad race at Valkenswaard and I am good mates with him, and I know some details about his season. He came on really strong and then he didn’t go for it at the end and he wasn’t happy with that, but I think he can be in there and he is a tough character and always puts himself into the position.
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