KTM Enduro Factory Racing Team newcomer Nathan Watson once again disregarded his rookie status to become the team’s most successful rider on what was a very difficult race weekend in Enkoping, Sweden.
Despite terrible weather and eight-hour-long days on the bike at the EnduroGP of Sweden, Nathan Watson took his first victory in E1 with a 2-1 score on his new KTM 250 EXC-F for the two days of tough racing in the Swedish forest and is now second in the championship points.
Watson: “The weather was horrendous on the first day, so before the day started I knew it was going to be a really difficult race. And it was. I felt like I rode pretty well but I crashed in the second Motocross test and got stuck underneath my bike and lost 35 seconds. I was really annoyed with that because I ended the day just 15 seconds behind Remes. Day two was hard work but despite a pretty big crash in the log section in the Enduro test I managed to get my first Enduro 1 class win. Winning has certainly made the tough weekend worthwhile.”
Ivan Cervantes, who partners Watson in the E1 class this season, picked up an 8-4 score for the two stages to be just off the podium in fourth place.
Cervantes: “It’s amazing how different the two days were here in Sweden. Like a lot of riders I struggled on day one – I had a lot of crashes because I wanted to better and better. I was looking for a fifth place result but I crashed in the last two special tests. I lost all the work I did during the day. I started the second day with a different suspension set-up, and enjoyed the conditions more. I was really focused on getting a podium result but I just missed it, by only one second. I’m happy with my performance on day two.”
Taylor Robert, the team’s American recruit also had a solid weekend, taking a 2-2 for overall second in the E2 class with the KTM 350 EXC-F but admitted the going had been tough for him in conditions that are very different to what he is used to.
Robert: “It seems like each race this season is harder than the one before it, which is unbelievable. Finland was incredibly tough yet this event in Sweden was even harder – the conditions were really, really brutal in places. The first day was almost like just surviving – the rocks, tree roots and mud were so challenging. I feel like every rider hit the ground a lot this weekend. I got off to a better start on day two but annoyingly still made some pretty big mistakes. But all-in-all I’m pretty happy to have come away with two runner-up results in Enduro 2.”
Beginning to recover form after the hand injury he picked up in the opening round in Morocco, factory rider Christophe Nambotin wrapped up his weekend in overall sixth.
Nambotin: “Things are getting better and better. Last week in Finland was really hard for me. I really struggled to find a good feeling simply because I’d not ridden much due to injury. We did some testing after the race and found some good suspension settings and I got a much better feeling. This weekend things were better for me. Although it was a tough weekend I feel like I’m moving in the right direction with things. I had one crash on the first day but apart from that things went well. I had three crashes on the second day, so I’m disappointed about that. They weren’t big crashes but I lost time. Physically I still have to get stronger. But it will get better.”
In the theoretical new EnduroGP class Watson was fourth, Taylor sixth, Nambotin eleventh and Cervantes 16th.
It was also a better weekend for KTM factory rider Laia Sanz in the women’s competition, and the usually dominant Spanish rider again assumed her customary position on the top step of the podium in the second round of the competition. Sanz, who also belongs to the KTM Rally Factory Racing Team, picked up an injury in Qatar in the opening round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies world championship. She has also had little time to adjust back to the Enduro motorcycle, but this week in Sweden was already better than the previous weekend in Finland where she finished in third.
Sanz: “I’m happy because I feel like I rode ok this weekend. Both the Swedish and Finnish races were really difficult for me because I wasn’t able to do so much training before them. It was hard to find my rhythm back on an Enduro bike again. I made too many mistakes and just didn’t feel good. But on the second day I felt better. The terrain was better because it was drier and I was able to control the race the way I wanted to. It wasn’t a perfect day but it was a good one.”
Team Boss Fabio Farioli said it had been a positive weekend and he was pleased with his two recruits. “It was a great day for us with Watson winning in E1. He’s really strong and very positive. Taylor (Robert) was also good and he’s learning very quickly. Nambotin is back after his injury and is riding much better. He had good times in the tests and in some he was very fast. I’m expecting a big improvement. Laia as usual is always on the podium, but she started (her preparations) late with bike and also the standard of the other competitors has improved.”