Ben Watson was a star at the Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina, as he acquired a career-best result and jostled with some of the established contenders. So, following such an amazing day, we just had to catch up with him and find out more about everything that occurred. How long is it going to be until Watson lands on the overall podium for the first time?
MX Vice: I don’t even know what to say. This is so much better than last year. Last year was good in itself, but you must be stoked. Even though you missed out by a point, which I guess stings a tiny bit.
Ben Watson: Yeah, obviously I’m really emotional. It’s just been an absolutely amazing weekend, the best weekend of racing of my life. Over the moon. To just lose out by one point from my first ever podium was gutting. It’s been an unbelievable weekend right from the start, from just the timed sessions and everywhere that I normally struggle. Everything’s been improved. I need to work on the start of my race, because in the second moto I lost so much at the start. I dropped back to eighth and obviously had to work my way back up to fourth. I think if I didn’t drop so much then anything could have happened. I can’t be thinking of negatives now though. I just need to enjoy it while I can because the feeling is incredible.
Did you just drop back because you took a while to get into the flow of things and read the track? Was there anything you can point to?
I hate this track, if I’m honest. Every year I’ve come here I’ve hated it. It’s just so fast and has small edges. It just gets these weird, sketchy holes and grooves in the take-offs and stuff. At the start of the race everybody is just completely flat out. For me to just go straight off the line and then balls out, it is just not my style. I lost so much on the start. It’s something I need to work on. It’ll come with tracks that I’m more comfortable with. I’m sure it’s going to come a little bit easier to me.
Seeing as you hate this place, did you surprise yourself? Did you come in thinking, I guess maybe top five is what you were shooting for? Something like that?
No, top five wasn’t… I was just wanting to come away with some solid points. It’s the first round of a really long season, so I looked at the videos of last year and actually my previous results. Last year I was fifteenth and nineteenth in the motos, so I’ve rode terrible here every year I’ve come. That gives me even more confidence. I’m leaving even happier than what I would if I just got fourth, because I’ve done way better than I thought. I just need to believe in myself more and realize that that’s where I should be and where my ability is.
Is it tough to kind of manage your expectations after this? Seeing as you hate the place, you didn’t expect to do this. I guess you’re already thinking that when you get to Valkenswaard and these places, the sky’s the limit. We already knew that with you though.
Yeah. My results here were a fifteenth and nineteenth, then I went to Valkenswaard and I was around tenth I think. I had a crash in one moto. It gives me a lot more confidence to know that usually I do a lot better at Valkenswaard, the deeper sand tracks and tracks like Portugal that are nice and technical with a few jumps and different corners. I can’t wait to get back to Europe and get on some tracks that I have done good on in the past and enjoy.
It seemed like maybe you believed in yourself more while you were riding. You were just a little more aggressive around guys like [Hunter] Lawrence and [Thomas Kjer] Olsen. Is that the case? Do you just believe that you belong up there now that you’re on a factory team and you had a little taste of it last year?
Yeah. I had a little taste of it last year, but not quite enough to make myself believe that that’s where I should be. That’s been a bit of a problem, really, and it’s a massive thing the team have been saying. It’s just belief that that’s where you should be, because it is. That’s the reason they have obviously signed me and every single member of this team is putting absolutely everything they have got into me. It’s just believing that’s where I should be and making it happen every weekend.
This is obviously a big trip for a rider and a team. Being on a factory team now, how different is it to last year coming to a flyaway race like this? Was there anything that you noticed that’s better or something that you didn’t even expect?
Well, yeah, if you just look at the pit itself it’s, I’m going to say, the nicest one here and the most professional set-up. Like I said before, they’re just putting absolutely everything they’ve got into it and 100% into me. From the trainer, my two mechanics, managers, owner and everybody. It’s so good to leave, make them all proud and happy and to make them know that it was the right choice to have me.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Monster Energy Media/Ray Archer