With the country now virtually on lockdown, all motocross activities have been brought to a halt which makes for strange days for pro racers who by now would usually just be hitting their stride after sticking to tried and tested programmes over the off-season.
A few days before the Government announcement, the MX Diary caught up with Shaun Simpson and discovered he was already keeping a low-profile at home in Scotland along with his wife Rachel and their 13-month-old son Angus.
“Me and my wife are actually self-isolating at the moment,” he said. “We’re feeling absolutely terrible. We’re not saying that it’s Coronavirus – we’ve not got the symptoms but we’ve both got a cold or the flu and the guidelines are saying not to be heading out and about and certainly not mingling with older people.
“We really don’t know what to do but at the moment we’re just going to have to sit tight. It’s terrible times. Personally, I’d like it if we were just on lockdown for a couple of weeks. That would make it simpler for me. At the moment you’re still getting people cruising around normally.
“Who knows when this season’s going to start again? I haven’t rode since Valkenswaard because the weather was terrible, then Little Silver didn’t happen and then this week we’ve been self-isolating so I’m not stressing that I’ve not been out on my bike.”
The 32-year-old, one of the hot favourites for this year’s British title, is running his own SS24 KTM Racing team this year after what ultimately turned out to be a troubled 2019 season with RFX KTM powered by PAR Homes.
By becoming his own boss, Shaun’s taken control of his career and is working closely with his father Willie, a former GP racer and vastly-experienced technician.
“Right now, when I come in and want to make a change the only person I’ve got to convince is my dad. He doesn’t always go ‘yes, yes, let’s do that’ – he’ll think about it and then we’ll make an informed decision on what I’m feeling on the bike and so far that’s worked.
“People talk about fitness these days and going to the gym and being at the next level of physical conditioning – and you can be an absolute animal in the gym and on your pushbike – but if you sit on your racebike and the thing’s not doing what you want it to do you just can’t ride at top speed.
“You can have a guy who comes off the couch, who’s a few kilos overweight but has a bike that’s dialled into perfection and he will race you for the whole moto because he’s feeling comfortable.”
Shaun’s early form has been impressive – if a little inconsistent – with a great showing at the Hawkstone Park International where he exchanged race wins with Jeffrey Herlings and a fantastic fourth in the second moto at the MXGP of the Netherlands at Valkenswaard.
“We’ve had some really good individual race results but at the same time I wanted to be very consistent this year and I’m already so disappointed that I’ve had a non-scoring ride at Valkenswaard. But these things do happen and you must get on with it and make sure you’re charged up and ready to go.”
Shaun’s British championship campaign to win a fourth national title should have kicked off earlier this month in Devon but rain stopped play the evening before the opener.
“I’ll be brutally honest, I felt like I’d turned up at the wrong race. Disgusted would be a harsh word but I was quite disappointed at how the event looked. It just looked like a club meeting. There was no organisation, it just looked like a shambles and the paddock wasn’t up to scratch for a British championship at that time of year.
“There’s only one road in and out and as I was pulling out on Sunday night I thought it was a great chance for them to reset and make some better decisions going forwards. At that time of year with that amount of people you have to go somewhere with hardstanding and a track that’s going to be able to withstand whatever weather gets thrown at them.
“Last year we were at FatCat and it was horrendous. The pits were flooded but at least everyone could drive in and out and the racing went ahead because the tracks they have there can withstand as much as gets thrown at them.”
For an extended interview with Shaun don’t miss the May issue of Dirt Bike Rider coming very soon.