News 10 Jul 2024

The factors that stopped Simpson winning his first Hattah

US-based Australian racer details numerous setbacks at the iconic race.

US-based Australian Jack Simpson has detailed the events that halted his mission to claim a first-career Hattah Desert Race victory on Sunday afternoon, struck by the effects of a damaged radiator and a bike that wouldn’t restart following the final pit stop with a single lap remaining.

In a one-off ride with ShopYamaha Off-Road Racing, Simpson looked destined to take the win heading into the last 38-kilometre lap of the gruelling four-hour race, but late drama with his WR450F ultimately cost he and the team the race. The radiator had been punctured in the early stages.

The 28-year-old dropped more than two and a half minutes before his bike restarted, allowing eventual winner Callum Norton (STE Racing KTM) and Gus Riordan (Mototech KTM) past, and he was forced to settle for third place on the podium.

Image: Foremost Media.

Victorian-born Simpson remained upbeat, however, despite experiencing a number of setbacks throughout the 300km race and having to settle for his third Hattah podium in five attempts.

“I started second behind Maximus Purvis and we left the rest of the guys for dead, but on the first lap a stick went through my radiator,” Simpson told MotoOnline. “There was a long straight and my boot felt slippery and hot, and I looked down and saw coolant all over my boot. It eventually dried up so there mustn’t have been any fluid left in the left radiator at all, and I did have to kinda nurse the bike from that point.”

After overtaking Purvis in the first pit-stop, Simpson stretched out a lead of more than a minute over the rest of the field, despite cooking his brakes on the third lap and snapping one of his Steg Pegz on the fifth lap. It was the final pit-stop that proved his undoing when his bike failed to restart after refuelling.

Image: Foremost Media.

“I had one 1m20s up my sleeve and was doing it easy, but the bike wouldn’t fire up after our last pit-stop,” he explained. “I knew I had a good buffer so we waited, tried again, waited, kept trying, and then the panic levels started to rise.

“I tried jump-starting the bike side-saddle several times. The last time I fell over with the bike from exhaustion, but that knock must’ve shocked the starter motor and it fired back to life straight afterwards. By then I’d dropped back to third and I didn’t have time to catch back up to the front guys.”

Even though events conspired against him to affect the end result, Simpson was satisfied with his performance: “Yeah, I was gutted, but I was proud of how I raced and the effort I put in. Everyone was like ‘This is going to be the biggest Hattah ever’ and I entered wanting to smoke every single one of them.

Image: Foremost Media.

“If everything had linked up, that’s what you would’ve got, but I couldn’t seal it… that last pit-stop cost me the win and I missed out on some good prize money as well. That’s racing though, and I know a Hattah win will come soon.”

Simpson is currently in Australia until August, when he’ll return to California to continue racing the WORCS and National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC) following their summer break. Having claimed the WORCS 250 Pro class title last year, he stepped up to the 450 class for 2024 and currently sits fourth in the standings.