Hitachi KTM MX2 riders Ben Watson and Josiah Natzke both made it to the podium at round three of the British Motocross Championship at Canada Heights in Kent on Sunday 30th April.
With Hitachi KTM's MX1 rider, Jake Nicholls, out for the foreseeable future after dislocating his hip in a freak accident at a round of the FIM Motocross World Championship, it was down to the team’s two MX2 riders (Ben Watson and Josiah Natzke) to get the results. While Josiah set the second-fastest qualifying time behind Mel Pocock, Ben struggled with the track conditions and could only manage eighth place.
Harri Kullas got the holeshot at the start of the first MX2 moto from Natzke, Pocock, Todd Kellett and Martin Barr. Ben did not get the start that he wanted, so was down in tenth place with a lot of work to do. Towards the end of the second lap, Pocock found a way around Natzke and pushed the young New Zealander down to second place. Watson, meanwhile, had already passed three riders and was up to seventh place on the hard track that had very little opportunities for overtaking.
With three laps to go Watson passed Barr, who was suffering with a mechanical problem on his Honda, and moved into fifth place; the position he would end the race. Kullas won by just under eight seconds from Pocock with Natzke third, Kellett fourth and Watson fifth after making the best he could from his bad start.
The second MX2 race started much better for the two young riders. Natzke followed race leader Barr around turn one and took the lead before the end of the first lap. Watson gated fourth, which made things a lot easier for himself. By lap five, and with Natzke still in the lead, Watson was up to second place and closing on his teammate. Kullas was in fourth place, however, and pushing on hard and fast. At half distance Natzke began to struggle, letting Watson through and into the lead, while a lap later Barr and Kullas pushed him down two further places to fourth place.
Watson crossed the finish line first, just under three seconds clear of Kullas, with Barr third. Natzke hung onto fourth place ahead of Michael Eccles, Josh Gilbert and Liam Knight. Overall it was Kullas, with Ben and Josiah filling the next two steps on the podium. Watson is still the leader in the championship standings, but with a smaller margin.
The Hitachi KTM team's next event is round seven of the FIM Motocross World Championship at Kegums in Latvia next weekend.
Ben Watson: “The day has turned out okay in the end, but in race one I got a really bad start and that was my race done. The track was so hard, because of the lack of rain, and it was very fast with just one racing line. With a lot of the riders going at the same pace, it was very difficult to make a pass. Things were much better in race two, as I was about fifth going out of turn one and managed to work my way through for the win. The track was a bit rougher, which helped with passing a lot, and I am still in the lead of the championship, so still have the leader's red plate going onto the next round."
Josiah Natzke: “I am happy with today, as my starts were good and it always helps when you get good starts. I had a good first moto, but tightened up a little bit halfway through. It all came back to me for the latter part of the race for third. In the second I was leading until I got really bad arm pump and faded back to fourth place. It’s great to get my first podium, so I have to be happy."
Words: Press Release | Lead Image: MPS Images