Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Nathan Watson has claimed a hard-fought victory at round five of the Championnat de France des Sables. Putting in a dramatic come-from-behind ride, the KTM rider secured the top step of the podium on the final lap of the two-hour 30-minute beach race to record his third win of the series. Ensuring a successful outing for the team, Watson’s teammates Camille Chapeliere and Jeremy Hauquier placed sixth and 12th respectively.
With the Christmas break complete, the fifth stop of the French beach race series took competitors to Grayan-Et-L’Hôpital, north of Bordeaux. A demanding 14-kilometre long course awaited the riders, which combined with mixed, wintery weather ensured a physical and challenging day for all.
Highly-motivated following his victory at round four, Watson arrived to Grayan-Et-L’Hôpital with only thoughts of winning on his mind. After a slightly cautious start to his race, the British rider soon settled into things and began to push the pace as the course roughened. With an impressively fast rhythm, he steadily worked his way up to the front of the field and into the race lead.
However, provisional leader Yentel Martens didn’t want to give up without a fight and for the second half of the race the duo went head-to-head for victory. Finding the extra energy needed, Watson upped his pace aboard his KTM 450 SX-F during the closing stages of the event, overtaking Martens on the final lap to clinch a memorable race win.
Nathan Watson:“I’m really happy with that, I couldn’t ask for a better race. To finish on the top step of the podium again, for the third time in the championship, is awesome. The opening lap was fast, much faster than I expected it to be. I didn’t want to make mistakes and lose more places than I could gain, so I remained calm and let things settle. Then I began building my rhythm and made some really good passes to reach the front of the field. When I passed Yentel for the lead he stepped up his pace too and we were fighting hard until the end. It was a great battle – one I enjoyed a lot – so to end up on the top step of the podium feels amazing after such a great race. With another win it means my championship hopes are growing despite having missed round two. Now, with just Enduropale Le Touquet remaining, I’m just going there chasing victory because that’s a race I really want to win. If I can do that then we’ll keep our fingers crossed to see what happens regards the championship.”
For Camille Chapeliere, his time in Grayan-Et-L’Hôpital was one of mixed fortunes. Once again pulling the holeshot, the Frenchman immediately positioned himself at the head of the 518-strong field of riders. However, as the race progressed and the pace intensified, he was unable to hold onto a podium result and slipped outside the top five, finishing sixth.
Camille Chapeliere:“After such a great start I’m a little disappointed to slip outside the top five in the closing stages of the race. I put a lot of hours in training for this race but I think maybe I did too much. I got the holeshot and felt great during the opening couple of laps. My bike was running awesome, but as the track got rougher I wasn’t able to hold my pace. I’m disappointed because I know I have the speed to finish on the podium. For Enduropale Le Touquet I need to prepare myself, take some rest and be as fit and fresh as I can for that race so I can deliver the result I’ve shown my speed is capable of.”
Continuing to build and improve as the series progresses, Jeremy Hauquier put in another commendable performance on his KTM 450 SX-F. Gaining valuable experience as he builds toward the series finale at Enduropale Le Touquet, Hauquier crossed the finish line in a well-earned 12th.