Kawasaki Racing Team MXGP’s Ben Watson raced to a magnificent fourth in the second moto of the Italian round of the FIM Motocross World Championship at Maggiora Park.
Overtaking had already proven extremely difficult on Saturday around the ultra-fast hard-pack raceway and when it rained hard for much of the night passing moves were clearly going to be even more of a factor on race day.
Grip was at a minimum on the slippery main racing line with any tyre choice so the team and rider made the conscious decision to go with the “scoop” rear tyre which should ensure optimal traction on the heavily-ripped start-straight. And this proved the case as Watson nearly made it across to the apex of turn one from his outside gate in the first moto and took a clear holeshot in race two.
The polished racing line was still extremely slippery through the opening laps of race one and the Kawasaki rider was gradually pushed back from sixth at turn two to 10th but a mid-race shower provided more traction during the second half of the moto and he was able to pull back within sight of the top-six at the close.
A perfect start and tremendous drive down the start-straight saw the Brit sweep through the first turn several bike lengths in front of the pack and maintain the lead for nearly two laps. Riding a controlled race to avoid mistakes he surrendered three places before the chequered flag but the tyre-choice tactic showed dividends as he finished well clear of any other chasers. 10th- and fourth-placed finishes in the two motos were rewarded with sixth overall on the day and he is now 11th in the series standings, just two points shy of the top 10, after seven of 20 rounds.
“This result is a big, big relief and really nice, not just for me but for the entire team; everybody’s been working so hard and nobody has given up on me, so it was nice to finally bring something back to them,” said Watson. “I still wasn’t feeling how I wanted yesterday; the track wasn’t technical enough in the dry so I was quite happy when it rained and they had ripped the track. There was still just one main dry line and you either had to take the risk of changing lines or wait for a mistake to pass so that’s why the start was so important and we again went with the scoop tyre as we had in Trentino.
“We sacrificed everything for the start and it paid off with two great starts and tenth and fourth at the finish for sixth overall.
“I always like the sand so to go to Riola next weekend on the back of a good result is great; I went 7-7 there last year so I’m really looking forward to the next Grand Prix.”