The youngest rider in the FIM Motocross World Championship had a baptism of fire in 2015 as Hitachi Construction Machinery Revo KTM’s Ben Watson discovered first-hand the difficulty of trying to make an impression at the highest level of the sport.
At 17, Watson was plucked for full-time MX2 competition after race wins and eye-catching appearances in the 2014 EMX250 European Championship.
Watson dealt with a steep learning curve in terms of the physical demands of Grand Prix and the idiosyncrasies and diversity of the circuits.
He also had his fair share of mechanical misfortune but by the end of the season – despite not traveling to rounds in Mexico and the United States – was starting to trouble the top 10 of MX2 and posted his best finish with 11th overall at the Dutch round at Assen.
“I learnt this year just how tough Grand Prix is,” he admitted. “Every time you go out on the track you have to be making good laps. I was not taking the sessions seriously enough and found out that they tend to roll into each other; you need a good lap in Timed Practice for the gate position for the Heat race, then a good start in order to confirm a good position for the motos! 2015 was all about ‘figuring it out’ and trying to find some results. I know how it all works in 2016 and it’s time to go for it.”
Watson’s progress caught the attention of other teams for 2016 but he is committed to the British Hitachi squad for a second term although there are rumours that the team could switch from ‘orange’ to ‘white’ motorcycles. 18 last June, #919 did comment on sourcing help with his preparation and training closer to his family base in the UK’s midlands for next year. “I’ll be more local during the winter and next year compared to 2015 and it should make things a lot easier. The plan is to head to Spain when the winter really kicks in to get most of the riding done there.”
For British fans charting the progress of Watson in 2016 paired with Wilvo Forkrent KTM contemporary Adam Sterry will provide a focal point to see who is best-equipped to follow in the footsteps of Simpson, Searle, Anstie and Nicholls.