Progress for Watson as sickness costs Febvre

Kawasaki Racing Team MXGP’s Ben Watson raced to a solid first moto ninth place in the Czech round of the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship at Loket.

The Englishman emerged tenth from the tricky opening turn in the first moto and maintained his composure throughout the thirty-minute-plus-two-lap race around the rugged hillside circuit, baked hard by the recent heatwave but with sharp-edged bumps throughout its length, to retain his top-ten ranking to the close. He eventually finished ninth and looked forward to a single-digit ranking in the overall classification, particularly after rounding turn one sixth in race two. Sensing that the two riders immediately ahead of him were desperately close to a collision on the approach to turn two he veered slightly to the right but the front wheel caught a sharp edge and he fell. A lap later he was struck from behind in traffic and fell again before mounting a strong recovery. Within ten minutes he had regained ten positions to break into the top-twenty and, pushing to the end, he eventually took the chequered flag thirteenth to miss the top-ten overall by a single point. He remains twelfth in the series points standings.

Ben Watson: “I’ve had a solid weekend and generally had a good feeling on the bike from first practice. P9 in Qualifying was not so important for the gate here but it’s always good for the confidence to have a good result on Saturday. I put in a solid first moto after starting around tenth and I had a much better start in sixth in race two but I was a little wary of Glen and Gajser in the air ahead of me going into turn two. I moved a little to the right, caught a sharp edge and lost the front end so I was last. I had a really good first lap, then coming over the finish line in traffic someone hit me from behind so I lost all those places again. After that I just kept plugging away and made some good passes to come away with thirteenth; the result should have been better but I leave with a good feeling about my riding headed for Lommel next weekend. It’s a tough one and anything can happen but I’ve had four podiums and my first win in MX2 there. “

It was a frustrating weekend for KRT team leader Romain Febvre. The Frenchman fell sick on Saturday but was determined to try to race. He slotted into eighth place from the start of race one with a tremendous surge around the outside of the first turn and held that position for twenty minutes until the strain took its toll. He persevered to the end to finish fifteenth but, after consultation with the team, decided not to start race two.

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Antti Pyrhönen (KRT team manager): “Romain was already feeling a little sick even before he arrived here but he rode well on Saturday so we were still quietly confident for today. But then during the night he got really sick in his stomach; he couldn’t keep anything down and only slept for one hour. We know he’s a fighter and he tried his best in the first moto but after twenty minutes all his energy was gone and he was dehydrating after being unable to eat or drink so we decided it was better to sit out race two. “

F&H Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jed Beaton looked strong in the first ten minutes of the opening moto as he moved forward decisively from outside the points-scoring positions to sixteenth before broken spokes, the result of contact with another bike, in the front wheel forced him out of the race. Determined to erase the disappointment he made several spectacular passes to advance from tenth to seventh within two laps and maintained that position, within sight of the top-six, for half the moto before succumbing to chasers in the closing stages to finish tenth. He remains seventeenth in the championship standings.

Jed Beaton: “The first race was just a problem when the wheel was broken; I’d been making passes and was battling for fifteenth-sixteenth so the feeling was already good and the second moto was the best I’ve had for some time. I know I can do it; I just needed that one race for the confidence. It could have been even better if the race fitness had been there but it’s been a tough year coming back from the injury and the last three laps I was pretty done from the heat. But it’s a step in the right direction and I’m looking forward to keeping it up. Lommel’s always tough but it’s the same for everyone, I’ve done a lot of riding in the sand and I’m starting to come back to fitness.“

Words and image: Kawasaki Racing