The FIM Motocross World Championship marched into Indonesia for the first time in twenty years this past weekend, as the Pangkal Pinang circuit played host to round two of nineteen. The Wilvo Yamaha MXGP duo were braced to tackle some challenging conditions, thanks to some heavy rain, as the circuit resembled a quagmire on Saturday morning.
That fact was taken into account when the promoters elected to run just a single practice session on the first day of the event. Although conditions were far from pleasant, Shaun Simpson and Arnaud Tonus didn’t hesitate when it came to tackling the circuit and reaped the benefits. Simpson, who was hoping to rebound from a luckless outing in Qatar, recorded a time that was so impressive that it secured him pole position for the following day. Arnaud Tonus was just eight spots further back in ninth.
Thankfully the rain held off overnight, so conditions had drastically improved when the riders took to the starting line at midday on Sunday. A handful of sections threatened to swallow up both man and machine, admittedly, but hopes were high when the gates dropped. Although Simpson got pinched off heading into turn one, he managed to hold a tight line and emerge on the cusp of the top five. The Scotsman then wasted no time at all and searched for a way around those who sat between him and the top spot.
It took just one lap for Simpson to dispose of the rider in fourth place, then he quickly broke into the top three. Just two laps after that he was already making a run at the leader and, despite some stiff competition, he made the move and broke free almost immediately. Thanks to some lap times that were almost three seconds quicker than those who trailed him, Simpson established a lead of seven seconds throughout the moto and claimed the sixth MXGP moto win of his career! The victory was also a first for Wilvo Yamaha MXGP.
Whilst that was going on at the head of the field, Arnaud Tonus struggled to overcome a mediocre start and was then restricted by a mistake on lap two. He immediately attempted to make up the ground that he had lost and, despite two more mistakes, made seven passes through the remaining laps whilst en route to fifteenth in the moto. Tonus was eager to rebound in the second MXGP moto, but did not get that chance. Heavy rainfall meant that conditions deteriorated to a point that forced the race director to cancel the final race.
That decision left Shaun Simpson and the Wilvo Yamaha MXGP team with the overall victory! In just their second Grand Prix together, the pair garnered maximum points and jumped to eighth in the series standings. Arnaud Tonus sits fourteenth in the championship heading into the third round of the series, which is set to take place in Argentina in two weeks.
Shaun Simpson: “It is one of those things where you have to go out there, race what is there and go with the decisions that have been made. In the first moto I just really gelled with the track, had some really nice lines going and felt comfortable on the bike. After I passed [Tim] Gajser for fourth, I just felt like I was going to win that race. I knew it was going to be that easy and it was! Once I got into the lead for the second time I managed to make it stick. It was a nice moto; I really enjoyed it.”
Arnaud Tonus: “It was a rough moto for me. I had a pretty good start and then a big crash in the second lap. I came back a few positions and crashed two times, but I kept going and finished fifteenth. I will keep grinding. Those kinds of races are a part of the job, so I need to learn from it and come back stronger in Argentina.”