Offering a change from the traditional seaside beach race, round three of the Championnat de France des Sables made its way inland to the vast, deep sandy forest region of St. Léger de Balson for the third stop of the championship. Wet and changeable weather for the two-hour-30-minute race ensured conditions would be anything but predictable for the 300 riders competing.
After missing round two due to his World Enduro Super Series commitments, Nathan Watson returned to competitive action in the championship highly motivated following his recent victory at the Red Bull Knock Out beach race in The Netherlands.
Starting strongly, Watson rounded the opening lap inside the top five. However, with conditions proving wet and muddy, he knew it would be a race of attrition for many. Taking his time to settle into things, he steadily worked his way into the lead during the first 45 minutes. Opting to pit early for a fresh pair of goggles and gloves saw him drop back to second place behind new race leader Milko Potisek. Feeling strong and comfortable in the deteriorating conditions, Nathan quickly worked his way back in front. Continuing his unrelenting pace, the KTM 450 SX-F rider ended the race with a two-minute-20-second margin of victory.
Nathan Watson: “I’m delighted and a little bit surprised with how well my race has gone. I felt in control the whole way through and despite some horrendously tough conditions I was able to manage the pace of the race to my advantage. With a lot of rain I knew conditions would be tricky. My start was ok and I was fourth after lap one. A few riders made some mistakes and then suddenly I was in the lead. However, I needed to pit early for fresh goggles and gloves and that dropped me back into second behind Milko. When I got going again I managed to pull him back in quite quickly and once ahead I continued that strong pace until the chequered flag. It feels great to get this win, especially off the back of my Red Bull Knock Out victory and I’m looking forward to keeping that momentum rolling into round four next weekend.”
For Jeremy Hauquier, round three saw him deliver his best performance of the series to date. Determined to show his best in the challenging conditions, the KTM rider rounded the opening lap in seventh. Although slipping outside the top 10 to 11th, he fought his way back up the leaderboard as the race progressed. Pushing hard with a couple of laps to go, he battled his way into seventh, a position he would hold until the chequered flag.
Jeremy Hauquier: “I’m really pleased with how I rode today and I’m happy to get my best result of the season to date. Round one and two were tough because I had some crashes and problems but today I feel like I showed good speed despite a muddy and difficult track. This result is a nice boost of confidence and I want to build on this at round four.”
Despite setting some of the fastest times of the day and leading the opening four laps, hopes of a winning result frustratingly didn’t materialise for Camille Chapeliere. Developing an issue with his clutch early in the race, the KTM rider had to pit early while leading. Rectifying the problem, he rejoined the race but was later forced to stop.
Camille Chapeliere: “I’m naturally disappointed with how things have gone. I got the holeshot and was running a fast pace at the front. However, unfortunately I had an issue with my clutch and needed to pit early to make adjustments. When I got going again the problem returned and I was forced to stop. It’s disappointing, especially for my team who worked so hard to keep me racing. However, I’m looking forward to round four next weekend as it’s a venue I enjoy and I’ll do my best to be back stronger.”
The Championnat de France des Sables continues with round four on December 9, 2018.
Results – French Beach Race Series, Round 3
1. Nathan Watson, KTM, 17 laps 2:39:26.670
2. Milko Potisek, Yamaha, 2:41:47.330
3. Jeffrey Dewulf, KTM, 2:45:24.490;
4. Petar Petrov, KTM, 16 laps 2:40:52.881
5. Maxime Sot, Yamaha, 2:41:22.540
7. Jeremy Hauquier, KTM, 2:42:24.820
Championship Standings (After round 3)
1. Milko Potisek, Yamaha, 410pts;
2. Jeffrey Dewulf, KTM, 375pts;
3. Petar Petrov , KTM, 308pts;
4. Maxime Sot, Yamaha, 292pts;
5. Nathan Watson, KTM, 285pts
10. Jeremy Hauquier, KTM, 262pts
20. Camille Chapeliere, KTM, 215pts…
Words: Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Pic: Xavier Leporchet