Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Nathan Watson has delivered a strong performance at the opening round of the French Beach Race Series in Berck-Sur-Mer to finish second. Teammate Camille Chapeliere made a positive start to the championship in sixth.
The six round 2018/19 Championnat de France des Sables got underway with its traditional start at Berck-Sur-Mer. Marking the 15th edition of the race in northern France, up to 600 competitors took to the physically demanding track during the duration of the weekend’s racing.
Eager to make a good start to his championship campaign, British rider Nathan Watson entered round one with his sights set on challenging for the top step of the podium. Quickly getting up to speed in his Group B heat races, the KTM rider placed second both times, while also leading his opening heat race for a number of laps.
Knowing he had the pace to fight for victory, a sixth-place start saw Watson fight his way to the front of the field during Sunday’s all-important 25-minute plus one lap final. Rapidly cutting a path through the tight and busy track, Nathan completed lap three in second position. But with the high volumes of traffic hampering his progress he was unable to close in on race leader Yentel Martens and had to settle for the runner-up result.
Nathan Watson: “Overall, I’ve had a good weekend and I sit second in the championship standings after round one. Coming here I wasn’t quite sure how things would go as it’s the first beach race of the season and it’s always difficult to judge your speed against the other riders. In my first heat race I got the holeshot and led for a few laps, which helped give me some confidence heading into Sunday’s main event. Unfortunately, my start in the main event wasn’t that good and I was about sixth after lap one. I spent the rest of the race trying my best to push forward. With the track narrower than last year, there seemed to be more traffic. It was difficult to judge what position you were in – you couldn’t really see the leading riders in front of you. But I’m happy with second.”
For Camille Chapeliere the opening round of the series proved a challenging one due to a foot injury sustained in Saturday’s heat race. Undergoing hospital scans to assess the damage, Chapeliere was relieved not to have broken anything and despite riding in pain he rode well in Sunday’s final.
Ending lap one in an incredible second position, he understandably slipped back a couple of places during the race as the rough sandy terrain took its toll. Fighting on, Chapeliere crossed the finish line for a hard-fought sixth overall.
Camille Chapeliere: “I’m pleased to come away from round one in sixth. On Saturday I injured my foot and was in a lot of pain. I went to the hospital that night for checks and scans but luckily nothing was broken, and I was able to race on Sunday. I had a good ride in the final and felt like I rode as best I could to eventually finish in sixth. Of course I would have liked a better result but considering the circumstances I’m pleased to come away from round one with good points and aim to build on it next weekend.”
Suffering a crash-riddled start to the series, things didn’t go Jeremy Hauquier’s way in Berck-Sur-Mer. Crashing in both his heat races he was forced to work his way from outside the top 50 to place 11th and 14th. Starting inside the top 10 in Sunday’s main event, another rider collided with him. Remounting outside the top 50, he battled hard through traffic to eventually work his way back 23rd.
Jeremy Hauquier: “With too many crashes it’s not been the start to the championship I hoped for. Unfortunately, what happened in the main event was outside my control but I did my best to recover to 23rd. On a positive note my lap times were fast enough for the top 10, so hopefully next weekend in Loon-Plage I can put in a better result.”
The Championnat de France des Sables continues next weekend, October 27/28, in Loon-Plage.
Results – Beach Cross Berck Final, Round 1
1. Yentel Martens, Husqvarna 11 laps, 29:48.880
2. Nathan Watson, KTM 11 laps, 30:03.570
3. Milko Potisek, Yamaha 11 laps, 30:07.190
4. Jeffrey Dewulf, KTM 11 laps 30:19.170
5. Steve Ramon, Yamaha 11 laps, 30:40.480
6. Camille Chapeliere, KTM 11 laps, 30:43.380
23. Jeremy Hauquier, KTM 10 laps, 30:09.780
Championship Standings (After Round 1)
1. Yentel Martens, Husqvarna 150pts
2. Nathan Watson, KTM 135pts
3. Milko Potisek, Yamaha 125pts
4. Jeffrey Dewulf, KTM 115pts
5. Steve Ramon, Yamaha 110pts
6. Camille Chapeliere, KTM 105pts
23. Jeremy Hauquier, KTM 78pts