Features 15 Aug 2023

Five Questions: Olly Simpson

ASBK Supersport leader on domestic resurgence and 2023 season.

After embarking on a stint in Europe that included Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup podiums in 2015 and British Superbike Championship (BSB) top-step success onboard a Moto3, Olly Simpson returned to Australia and remained relatively quiet in terms of racing. The South Australian then surfaced onboard an R3 and competed in select Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) races before stepping up the Supersport category last year, leading the championship before injury forced him to the sidelines at Wakefield. With two rounds remaining in the 2023 season, Simpson again leads the ASBK 600 standings and CycleOnline caught up with the R6 racer to ask Five Questions for this latest feature.

Image: Foremost Media.

What motivated you to return home from Europe to reset, and now focus on the Australian Supersport Championship? 

I did the rookies [Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup] for three years and at the end of it you needed a fair bit of money to continue in Moto3 and to hop on a team over there. We didn’t really have it at the time, so I sort of just took a break from racing altogether for a few years there, and then like anything, just got the bug back again and did like a few little races on the 300 at Tailem Bend, the local ASBK meetings and from there just wanted to go a bit further again. Last year I did my first year on the 600s until I got injured, but yeah, this year we are on a 600 again and giving it a full crack. I guess I just got the bug for it again [laughs].

Is there anything that you take from racing a Moto3 overseas and apply that racing ASBK on a 600? 

Yeah, there still are a couple of similarities. I think where I gained the most from racing overseas and in the Red Bull rookies is just how hard you have to push on the first laps, and just off the start. I guess that’s like my biggest advantage at the moment. Purely just from racing overseas and all of that, I can just put my head down straight away and that’s where I sort of make all of my moves and stuff like that. That helps a lot, over than that it’s sort of very similar racing and stuff. I mean the bikes I was racing over there are a lot different to the 600s now.

You were leading the championship in your first season in Supersport last year before you got hurt at Wakefield, and you are leading it again now. Has anything changed in your approach towards 2023? 

We were a little bit under-prepared last year, we got the bikes… we didn’t have time to do the first test or nothing. So I was sort of learning as I was going, and I so happened to lead the championship through luck more than anything. This year we are a little bit more prepared, still we are still not fully there, we are obviously missing a lot of tests and stuff like that for the tracks, so we sort of are still on a little bit of a back foot. But we’ve got a bit more preparation behind us with the bikes, we’ve got a couple more bikes and spare parts and stuff like that so we are able to get a bit more knowledge on the bikes. It’s just time on the bike really.

Image: Foremost Media.

Do you think the lack of testing you do at some of the tracks compared to the other guys before the rounds affects your qualifying? Obviously, you’ve had really fast starts and shown you can fight your way forward in the races. 

It definitely does affect me a lot, I’m going to tracks on the 600 for the first time and tracks like Morgan Park and even Sydney that haven’t even ridden for ages. So it is all like brand new again. Literally, the practices I will spend most of the time learning the track, trying to find setups and stuff like that, not even worried about what times I get or nothing like that. Pretty much qualifying, once again, I even use the first qualifying just as a practice, to get my head around the track and just learn some more, get some more data for the bike and then pretty much the last qualifying is sort of a bit of race pace sort of thing for me. I am lacking a bit in the qualifying, just purely because I don’t have the data behind me from missing the tests, but I guess I am trying to dig into my experience and build up for a whole weekend. The races are where it counts, so that is sort of what I aim towards.

If you can wrap up the 600 title this year, would a Superbike step be on the cards for you, or potentially even a return overseas? 

I haven’t really thought about it too much. I have had a few people just offering a couple of little things here and there. I’m not too sure. Superbikes… I don’t know if I am really ready for a Superbike yet. I mean if I got the offer I definitely would take it, but I think I’m still happy learning, taking my time on the 600s. If I do win the championship then I probably would do something, maybe like even head overseas. Maybe like a BSB or something like that, because it is still quite a competitive championship. I still wouldn’t mind heading over there on a 600, or just doing something like that. Haven’t really thought about it too much at the moment.