Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Nathan Watson has secured his third victory of the season in the CFS: Championnat de France des Sables, extending his series lead following a commanding win at round six in Grayan-et-L’Hopital. Teammate Camille Chapeliere delivered another strong showing in the deep French sand to claim fourth, maintaining his position of third overall in the championship with one round remaining.
The penultimate stop of the CFS: Championnat de France des Sables saw competitors travel to the south west of France, near Bordeaux, for round five. A mixture of a high-speed sandy beach and rough dunes ensured a thorough and demanding test for all at Grayan-et-L’Hopital. High tides resulted in the original three-hour race distance being cut short to just over two hours.
Disappointed with missing out on victory last time out at Hossegor, Watson was determined to return to his winning ways at Grayan-et-L’Hopital. A course he favours, the young British rider wasted no time in positioning himself at the head of the field. Claiming a top-five start, he powered his KTM 450 SX-F into the lead on the opening lap.
Comfortable out front he set the pace, pulling one minute and 20 seconds clear of his rivals as the race entered its latter stages. However, unaware that organisers had cut the race distance from three hours to just over two because of a turning tide, Watson still completed his three scheduled fuel stops. Without risk of losing position, he went on to win by almost 50 seconds.
Nathan Watson:“Overall, I had a really great race today. As beach races go, this one went pretty much perfectly. I’m not sure what it is about this place but I enjoy coming here and love the mixture of open high-speed beach and rough sections in the surrounding forest. We made some changes to the bike to allow for more power and speed and that helped me get a good start. I was about top five, but made some quick overtakes and hit the front on the opening lap. I was able to lead every lap and felt comfortable controlling the pace. Towards the end the organisers cut the race short. I could have avoided an extra fuel stop to save time, but I had already done my three stops at that point, so although I lost time there thankfully it all worked out ok. It’s the final push now towards Enduropale du Touquet. I feel in a good place and go there confident and focused on defending my crown.”
Once again proving himself as the fastest starter in the series, Chapeliere recorded another holeshot on his KTM 450 SX-F. Settling into a battle with the leading three riders, the Frenchman fought hard for a podium result during the 11-lap race. However, unaware that the race distance was reduced, Camille unnecessarily took his final fuel stop costing him precious time. Unable to recover, he frustratingly had to settle for fourth, just missing out on a top-three result by one minute.
Camille Chapeliere:“I feel like a podium result was possible today, so I’m disappointed a little with fourth. I was having a good race, battling for the top three all the way through. I got the holeshot and put myself in a good position. But towards the end of the race nobody told my team that it had been shortened and as a result I did an extra fuel stop, which cost me a better result. It’s frustrating, but it is what it is. With le Touquet next, I’ve shown this year that my starts are good and my speed is strong, so I’ll go there wanting to settle for nothing less than a podium result.”