KTM’s Nathan Watson wins season finale from Coldenhoof & Martens
Billy Bolt has been crowned 2018’s Ultimate Enduro Champion at the eighth and final round of the World Enduro Super Series – the Red Bull Knock Out held in The Netherlands.
The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider claimed the top step of the championship podium ahead of Germany’s Manuel Lettenbichler and round winner Nathan Watson.
Bolt is well-known for his Hard Enduro ability, while runner-up Lettenbichler was the championship’s best placed privateer, with motocross turned enduro racer Nathan Watson claiming the final position and representing the championship’s diversity and enduro spirit.
Billy Bolt – 2018 Champion
“I can’t believe it, this is going to take some time to sink in. To be the first World Enduro Super Series champion is awesome. The race was crazy, I had two huge crashes and hit the ground hard, but apart from that I enjoyed it. It was tough making your way past all the other competitors – there were bikes abandoned everywhere. The track changes every lap – there’s hardly a start straight now the tide has come in so much. It was frustrating at times when you got stuck or lost time due to someone else’s mistake, but that’s the nature of the race and generally the whole event went well for me. It’s been such a long season, with so many different races – to finish at the top when it’s all come to a close – it feels unreal. It’s been a real rollercoaster season for me with some challenges and then my knee surgery, to stand here now having won WESS is brilliant. It’s been a real team effort. The Rockstar Husky guys have really done everything and more to allow me to win this championship. It’s been a real team effort.”
The sixth edition of the Dutch Beach Race saw Watson stormed his way to a debut win on the Scheveningen shoreline, taking victory over home favourite Glenn Coldenhoff and Belgium’s Yentel Martens.
After seven rounds of Hard Enduro, Classic Enduro and Cross-Country racing, the first season of the multi-discipline Enduro series drew to a spectacular close at the infamous Red Bull Knock Out Beach Race. 1000 competitors took to the start line for the one-hour morning qualifier – won by Watson and 750 riders earned their place in the two-hour Final.
Eager to impress in front of his home crowd, Coldenhoff set the early race pace, with Watson, Martens, Camille Chapeliere and Britain’s Todd Kellet in tow. During the opening half of the race, Coldenhoff set a blisteringly fast pace and appeared to have all under control.
However, the opening of the extreme X-Loop for the final hour dramatically changed the flow of the race and Watson – putting his Enduro skills to good use – fought his way into the lead. Continuing his fast pace during the final laps, and with the track at its roughest, Watson stormed ahead to claim a 90-second margin of victory over Coldenhoff, with Martens coming through for third.
Nathan Watson – 3rd overall & Red Bull Knock Out winner
“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.”
Glenn Coldenhoff – 2nd at Red Bull Knock Out
“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.”
In the battle at the head of the World Enduro Super Series, all eyes were on title contenders Bolt and Lettenbichler, who were inside the top 20 of the 750 competitors. Positioning themselves out of trouble early on, the duo were closely matched with Bolt holding an important advantage.
However, two crashes by Bolt put him on the back foot during the closing stages of the race. Needing a lap to regroup he began to make headway, using the technical X-Loop to his advantage. Pushing clear of Lettenbichler and working his way up to 12th, the Husqvarna rider crossed the finish line as the newly-crowned Ultimate Enduro Champion.
Despite giving his best effort, Lettenbichler was unable to get the better of Bolt in the deep Dutch sand, finishing a creditable 15th to take the runner-up result in the 2018 World Enduro Super Series. In the fight for the final step of the championship podium, Watson’s round eight victory saw him leap past teammate Josep Garcia who placed 16th – to secure third overall.
Manuel Lettenbichler – 2018 runner-up
“It’s been an amazing year and to end it as the championship runner-up is beyond my pre-season expectations. I knew Billy was good in the sand, so my plan here was to try and keep him behind me and do my best to claim as many points as possible. I wasn’t sure how things would be after hurting my thumb at the Gotland Grand National. But the adrenalin has kept the pain away today and I’m really happy with my ride. Overall, I have had some strong podiums and I really feel like I have come into my form and that I’m riding at the top of my game. To end WESS as the series’ runner-up is amazing, but now I have to come back even stronger next year and take Billy’s title. Congratulations to him, it’s been a great year battling with him.”
In becoming the Ultimate Enduro Champion of 2018, Billy Bolt claimed the World Enduro Super Series prize of a KTM X-Bow.
Red Bull Knock Out – WESS Round 8 Results
- Nathan Watson (KTM – GBR) 24 laps, 2:01:43.785
- Glenn Coldenhoff (KTM – NED) 2:03:14.001
- Yentel Martens (Husqvarna – BEL) 2:07:35.255
- Camille Chapeliere (KTM – FRA) 23 laps 2:03:48.396
- Todd Kellet (Husqvarna – GBR) 2:05:51.526
- Jamie McCanney (Yamaha – GBR) 2:06:02.401
- Lars van Berkel (KTM – NED) 2:06:57.553
- Axel van de Sande (Yamaha – BEL) 2:07:19.272
- Jeffrey DeWulf (Yamaha – BEL) 2:07:57.178
- Sven van der Mierden (Husqvarna – NED) 22 laps 2:04:34.561
World Enduro Super Series Final Championship Standings
- Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GBR) 4800pts
- Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 4470pts
- Nathan Watson (KTM – GBR) 4103pts
- Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 4010pts
- Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 3675pts
- Paul Bolton (KTM – GBR) 3377pts
- Wade Young (Sherco – RSA) 3220pts
- Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GBR) 3010pts
- Jonny Walker (KTM – GBR) 2900pts
- Lars Enockl 2272pts…