Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Nathan Watson has claimed victory at the Enduropale du Touquet beach race, crowning the British rider champion of the Championnat de France des Sables series. Victory at the 44th edition of the iconic beach race also secured KTM’s first French Beach Race Championship title.
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.
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 per cent 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.”
Enjoying one of his best results of the Championnat de France des Sables series, Jeremy Hauquier placed an impressive 10th overall – achieving his goal of a top 10 result. Despite a slow start, he regrouped well to end the opening lap in eighth. Getting caught in a gridlocked section of the course where lapped traffic cost him valuable time and positions, he slipped back to 16th. But on the roughening track he put in a determined ride to battle his way back up to 10th.
Camille Chapeliere’s participation in the 44th edition of the Enduropale du Touquet began strongly. Quick to set the initial pace, the Frenchman controlled the race lead at the end of lap seven of 15. However, a costly ‘Stop and Go’ penalty from race direction cost him dearly, slipping back to fifth. Fighting hard to regroup he then crashed heavily into a fallen rider on the blindside of a tricky sand dune. Although escaping without injury, damage to his bike forced him withdraw from the race.
Jeremy Hauquier: “It’s been a very tough and physically demanding race. My goal was to finish inside the top 10 and I’ve managed to do that. My start wasn’t perfect, but I fought well to get up to 10th and at the end of lap one I was about eighth. I was riding well and feeling confident in the sand until I made a mistake in the lapped traffic and got stuck. It took a little bit of time to get going again and I had to battle my way from 16th to finish 10th.”
Results – Championnat de France des Sables, Round 6
1. Nathan Watson (GBR) KTM, 15 laps 3:30:20.951
2. Daymond Martens (BEL) Yamaha, 3:08:16.441
3. Richard Fura (FRA) Honda, 3:10:14.311
4. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA) Yamaha, 3:11:17.183
5. Stephane Watel (FRA) Honda 3:14:05.210 …
10. Jeremy Hauquier (FRA) KTM, 14 laps 3:03:49.088
Final Championship Standings
1. Nathan Watson (GBR) KTM, 735 pts
2. Milko Potisek (FRA) Yamaha, 625 pts
3. Jeffrey Dewulf (FRA) KTM, 615 pts
4. Maxime Sot (FRA) Yamaha, 590 pts
5. Stephane Watel (FRA) Honda, 566 pts …
11. Camille Chapeliere (FRA) KTM, 455 pts