Nathan Watson on his Le Touquet victory
With the world-renowned Enduropale du Touquet playing host to the sixth and final round of the Championnat de France des Sables, Nathan Watson arrived at the legendary beach race third overall in the points standings. Knowing that a race win would offer him the greatest chance of championship success, the British rider set about doing exactly that.
A slow start to the race saw Watson lose considerable time on the leaders during the opening hour. Taking things too cautiously on the fast and smooth course, he began to find his rhythm as the event moved past the halfway point. With the track deteriorating, the KTM 450 SX-F mounted rider rapidly cut his way through the field, jumping from sixth to second in just two laps.
Battling hard with race leader and championship rival Milko Potisek, the duo went head-to-head during the closing stages of the race. With the final pitstop complete, Watson attacked hard for the last two laps and managed to break clear. He eventually crossed the finish line as the 2019 French Beach Race champion with a comfortable five-minute margin of victory, whilst becoming the first ever British rider to win the ‘Le Touquet’ beach race.
Nathan Watson: “It’s an absolutely amazing feeling to not only win Le Touquet for the first time but also take the championship. We’ve worked incredibly hard this season, so to get a result like this is beyond words. During the first hour of the race I actually thought that I might not be able to do it. A lot of people overtook me early on and I was riding far too cautiously because the course was so fast and smooth. When it grew rougher that’s when I began to come into my own and really find my speed. I was just able to push hard and feel confident in the big sand holes and the slower traffic around me. When I caught Milko we battled for a while and then for the final pitstop we pitted at different times, so I didn’t know where he was after that. All I could do was give it 100 percent during the final two laps until the finish line. This is the biggest victory of my career – it’s been my dream since I was a child to win this race and now I’ve become the first British rider to do so. I’m also the first KTM rider in over 30 years to win Le Touquet, too. Now, winning the championship as a result is perfect end to a fantastic season. Finally, I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing for the support they’ve put into me – it’s amazing to get the result we’ve all worked so hard for.”
Fabio Farioli – KTM Enduro Team Manager: “Winning Le Touquet and the French Beach Race Championship title is a fantastic achievement and I would like to say a huge congratulations to Nathan and everyone in the team – we worked hard to get it. This is a challenging and difficult event, as are all beach races, and the competition has been tough throughout the series. Nathan rode a smart and mature race at the beginning and pushed when it mattered with more aggression and speed at the end; he really wanted to take the win and the title. It’s a proud moment for KTM to be on top of the podium at this iconic event after many years and we are happy to be celebrating this special victory.”
Watson won four of the six French Beach Race Championship events on his way to clinching the title, despite missing a round due to his commitments at the World Enduro Super Series.
Pic: Pascal Haudiquert