Yamaha could have potentially lost Jeremy Van Horebeek to a broken and dislocated finger for the Grand Prix of Lombardia at Ottobiano next week for what will be round eleven of nineteen in 2017 MXGP but have been boosted by the news that Wilvo Yamaha’s Shaun Simpson is back on the YZ450F and rode for the first time yesterday (Monday).

The Scot has missed the previous three fixtures since breaking the middle metacarpal bone in his right hand after striking a trackside cable in Latvia and requiring an operation to plate the fracture. The Indonesian Grand Prix winner has since maintained a strict fitness regime but was only cleared to ride his racebike at a private facility this week. After just one day of laps and practice, Simpson is confident of being back in the gate in the Ottobiano sand on June 24th-25th.

“I’ve had to control my patience to get back riding but it was important to let my hand heal properly as it was the second injury in two years to this part of my body and I know it’s something you cannot rush,” he commented exclusively. “Everyone has been saying how tough and tight MXGP is this year and it’s so true. It means coming back to the paddock anything less than 100% fit and confident is pointless.”

“I was really pleased with my feeling on the bike and in my hand,” he added. “I will see how it is on Tuesday and then get out again on Wednesday…but I need to keep calm. I’ll go to Italy and then Portugal to do the best I can but also be realistic after missing three races.”

Simpson’s predicament involves some interesting circumstances. Yamaha have only just publicly launched their 2018 YZ450F technology with new chassis and engine package (with electric start). It is unclear if – and when – Wilvo will start to compete with the motorcycle but there is enthusiasm to begin testing while the works Monster Energy Yamaha team of Romain Febvre and Van Horebeek have been following their own development programme.

Like all British riders an area of Simpson’s thoughts will contain the 2017 Motocross of Nations at Matterley Basin on October 1st with Team Manager Mark Chamberlain likely to announce the three-man selection in the coming summer months. Favourites for the line-up that will be at the centre of the spotlight for what is expected to be a massive event in southern England, is Simpson (British Champion in 2014 and 15 and the UK’s sole winner in the MXGP category), Tommy Searle (current British Champion and yet to appear in MXGP this year after recovering from knee surgery but now allegedly dealing with a broken hand), Max Anstie (impressing in his rookie MXGP term and finished fourth overall last week in Russia) and Dean Wilson (a top ten presence in AMA 450SX and MX series as part of the factory Rockstar Energy Husqvarna set-up).

Photo by Shaun Simpson & Ray Archer

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