9 August 2015
Simpson fourth in debut AMA National
British champ just misses out on podium in a one-off ride at Unadilla
British champ Shaun Simpson took a fantastic fourth overall in his first ever US National at Unadilla, thanks to a stunning fourth place in the opening 450 moto and eighth second time out.
Riding a borrowed factory KTM on a track he'd never seen before, Simpson was lucky to avoid a huge crash in turn one of the first moto that claimed Ken Roczen and Christophe Pourcel, but pulled back through well.
With Ryan Dungey clearing off at the front to win easily by 14 seconds from Justin Barcia, Simpson got in a huge battle with Justin Bogle and Trey Canard for third place.
Simpson only lost ground when the two Honda riders clashed right in front of him, causing the KTM man to go off the track. He got back on a distant fifth but finally overtook Bogle who crashed hard.
Simpson had a top 10 start but was lucky to avoid a first turn crash that wiped out Christophe Pourcel and Ken Roczen who pitted for bike repairs. Simpson got on the gas hard and was fifth by the end of the first lap, challenging 450 newbie Bogle for fourth.
Canard slipped off and remounted in fourth, in front of Simpson. Canard poured the pressure on Bogle, almost clashing in a corner which meant Simpson had to divert off the track to avoid them, losing significant ground.
At the front, Dungey wasted no time in passing holeshot man Justin Brayton who dropped back as Justin Barcia and Trey Canard steamrollered through. Dungey pulled away to an unchallenged win while Barcia was as comfortable in a lonely second.
Second time out Dungey wasted no time in getting to the front after passing holeshot man Bogle who fell. Barcia slotted into second but then lost it to Roczen while Simpson moved to sixth on the second lap, passing Dean Wilson.
Roczen set a blistering lap time, catching Dungey and putting the pressure on as Barcia succumbed to pressure from Pourcel as Canard held a safe fifth.
Roczen kept less than two seconds behind Dungey and made several lunges to get through but took runner-up spot from Pourcel, Barcia and Canard. That gave Dungey the win with a clean 1-1 score from Barcia and Canard.
Simpson had a lonely race until he was eventually caught and passed by Yamaha hard man Weston Peick then Suzuki's Blake Baggett, moving the Scot down to eighth in front of Wilson who was eventually overhauled by Broc Tickle. But his eighth place was good enough to give Simpson a cool fourth overall in his first ever US National.
In the 250 class, Marvin Musquin clawed two vital points back on series leader Jeremy Martin after finishing runner-up overall at Unadilla. Yamaha man Martin, who won the opener then was fifth in moto two, is now just two points in front. KTM ace Musquin, winner of the second moto, was fourth first time out.
In the opener, Joey Savatgy led from Christian Craig and Musquin who slipped off and dropped back to eighth. With Pro Circuit rider Savatgy leading, Craig dropped back as Martin and Chris Alldredge sneaked past, tailed by Musquin who pulled back through, with Copper Webb not far behind. Webb, riding a yellow retro-style Yamaha to celebrate the firm's 60th year, fell when he got cross-rutted and was trapped under his bike. By the time he got going again, he was outside the top 20.
With five minutes on the clock remaining, Martin eventually jumped past the Kawasaki man Savatgy and began to ease away. Musquin got close to third place Alldredge but slowed as he had goggle problems and was furious as he saw Martin pull further away at the head of the series.
Martin said: “I got a good start but the track is gnarly. I was able to get into the grove and Joey was tough to pass. I studied him and made my pass.”
Savatgy said: “I got the gate and I'm glad to lead some laps finally!”
Second time out Savatgy pulled another holeshot from RJ Hampshire and Alex Martin while Musquin was fifth and Jeremy Martin was just inside the top 20, but picking up places fast.
Savatgy held the lead while Musquin moved up to third behind rookie Jordon Smith, the Frenchman then battling all the way with rival Webb. As Smith crashed out, Musquin chased down the leader and took control on lap nine, while Webb battled and eventually got the better of Savatgy.
Webb pushed right to the end but crashed on the penultimate lap, allowing Musquin to win the moto but Savatgy to take runner-up in the moto and the overall win. With a pair of runner-up finishes, it was Savatgy's first ever overall and a welcome return to form for his Pro Circuit team.
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