Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Nathan Watson has won the eighth and final round of the 2018 World Enduro Super Series. His win moves him up to third overall in the final championship standings.
Second place at Knock Out went to Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MXGP star Glenn Coldenhoff, Camille Chapeliere narrowly missed the podium in fourth with Josep Garcia successfully completing his first beach race in 16th position.
The inaugural World Enduro Super Series concluded with the sixth edition of Red Bull Knock Out held on the Scheveningen Beach in The Hague, The Netherlands. 1000 riders took to the sand in the early morning with the aim of qualifying for the afternoon’s two-hour final. Made up of a two-kilometre straight and large, soft sand jumps and whoops, the track certainly lived up to the expectations of what has become known as the toughest beach race in the world. An extreme ‘X-Loop’ with huge hills and multiple log sections only added to the challenge when it was opened during the main event’s final hour.
Fastest in the morning qualifier, Nathan Watson came into the afternoon’s race with a lot of pressure on his shoulders. The sand specialist had finished as runner-up twice before, in 2015 and 2016, and was favourite to win on his third attempt. After a solid start, Watson held onto second place for the majority of the first hour, keeping to a strong but consistent pace and navigating the track and backmarkers superbly. With the opening of the X-Loop, Nathan came into his own – experience gained over the season enabled him to deftly make it through the extreme part of the course and take the lead. Over the last quarter of the race, the former MXGP rider extended his lead to a comfortable one-and-a-half minutes and crossed the line first, unchallenged by the riders behind.
Nathan Watson: “I am so happy, I have been looking forward to this race all year. To take the win feels amazing, especially after finishing runner-up the last two times.
“I put myself under a lot of pressure coming here, everyone had me down as the favourite but anything can happen, especially in beach racing. I was ill last week and I didn’t expect to be so strong, but the whole race went perfectly.
“Glenn got away really fast at the beginning but I knew if I held on, I should come strong at the end. I can’t thank the team enough, it’s been a seriously tough year for me – I’ve experienced a lot of new events and learned a lot. To jump up to take third overall in the WESS championship is incredible.”
After his holeshot, Glenn Coldenhoff led the race right up to the halfway point, showing excellent speed on the rough, rapidly deteriorating track. Losing a little time in his one and only pitstop, Coldenhoff then got caught up with some lapped riders, subsequently losing the lead to Watson. Fighting right to the chequered flag, the Dutch rider finished as runner-up with a comfortable margin of over four minutes from the third-placed rider.
Glenn Coldenhoff: “That was a tough race, I am happy with second but it’s disappointing not to take the win. I started off really well and took the joker lane twice and was still leading at the halfway point. I was close to running out of fuel at the pitstop and lost a bit of time there but still felt good and had about a minute lead. When they opened up the X-Loop it was ok at first but on the second time through there were a lot of riders already stuck. I wanted to make sure I completed it properly but in the end the organisers were directing everyone up the side. I put in a lot of training for the event after the Motocross of Nations and I’m glad to take the runner-up, I just wish it was one step further up the podium.”
Beach race expert Camille Chapeliere enjoyed a solid Red Bull Knock Out, just missing out on a podium finish in fourth after two hours of racing the gruelling Dutch track. The Frenchman stayed consistent and rode his own race, making up six places in the closing stages of the event. Happy with how he rode, the 24-year-old vowed to be back stronger next year.
Camille Chapeliere: “The day has gone very well for me. I finished the first heat in third – it was a good result but I wasn’t riding at 100%. For the final, I had a strong start and completed the first lap in third. I did my joker lane four times straight away to get that done and was running in about 10th after the first hour. For the second half of the race I kept to a good pace and fought my way back up to fourth. It’s a good result, but of course, I’m disappointed not to finish on the box. It was so rough out there and very complicated due to all the other riders. I’ll keep on working and try to be stronger for next time.”
Riding his first ever beach race as well as his first major competitive outing on a KTM 450 SX-F motocross bike, Josep Garcia put in an excellent performance in the difficult conditions to place 16th. His fitness suffering due to an injury to his knee, Garcia was happy with his finish and is already looking ahead to next season and bettering his position of fourth overall in the World Enduro Super Series Standings.
Josep Garcia: “It’s been a tough race for me today, I’m not at 100% fitness due to hurting my knee earlier in the season. To finish the race feels good, but I am disappointed to lose out on third in the championship. At the beginning of the year I would have been happy with top-five but when you are so close it’s a shame to lose out. This season has been challenging but very rewarding – I have finished all the extreme races, placed third at round three and won at Hawkstone Park. My 2019 season starts now, I need to have some surgery on my knee and then will start training straight away for next year.”
Not competing at Red Bull Knock Out due to injury, Taddy Blazusiak finished a strong fifth overall in the overall WESS standings with early series leader Jonny Walker placing inside the top-10 in ninth.
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