It is incredible to watch the amount of progress that Ben Watson is making each week, as he continues to show flashes of brilliance and edge closer to career-best results. Although Watson ended fourth overall again at the Grand Prix of Great Britain, his home race, it was another impressive ride and there is no doubt that he deserved a spot on the box. All of that was covered in our exclusive interview with the Kemea Yamaha rider.
MX Vice: Obviously you wanted a podium and you did not get it, but I feel like this weekend kind of summed up how far you have come. Coming from last to sixth in the first race… There is just no chance you would have done that last year.
Ben Watson: Yeah, definitely. I am actually really happy with the weekend. I felt solid on the bike Sunday. I just had a little bit of bad luck with the start. There was something a little out of my hands. It is one of those things that everybody has and unfortunately I was stopped on the line. I came back through really strong. I felt good and I managed to get to sixth. I was pretty happy, but at the same time a little bit gutted because I felt strong and I felt fast. I feel like I deserved maybe a better result.
You cannot win today, but you can definitely lose it in one day. So I was quite happy that it was a consistent result and some good points again. Race two I felt really good. I kind of missed my… I have some lights on the front to show the RPM and I missed it completely with this. When I looked, the five second board was up. I was so lost on the start, I almost hit the gate and then pulled the bike back and went again. I was just inside the top twenty I think at one point, then I charged really hard to fourth. I was really happy with my riding and fourth overall again. I am off the podium, but I am not complaining in fourth.
That first-moto start looked weird. I could not figure out if the gate had bounced up on you or anything. What was it exactly?
Basically I do not really know the ins and outs, because it is way too technical for me. Unfortunately, I just went off the grid and then the bike stopped on me. I just had to start it again and then charge through from completely last. I had quite a good first lap, actually, there were a few crashes and I think after the first lap I was inside the top twenty somewhere, so that was good. I tried to work hard quickly because that is a bit of a weakness of mine sometimes.
I am a little bit too slow at the beginning of the race. I am happy. I feel like we learned a lot. It was definitely a good day for the championship. I just want to say thanks to all the team, because they work absolutely endless hours and put everything in throughout the week and the weekends. It is nice to be giving them some solid points back.
Your first moto was amazing and all of that, but I was a bit worried that you had maybe used all your energy and by the end of the second moto you would be feeling it a bit. Was that a concern for you? It definitely did not look like it affected you.
Jacky, my trainer, was a little bit like that. He said, “You fought really hard there. Please right now go and take some rest and try and get to a quiet spot so there are not many people hassling you and stuff." I did not feel so bad, but I would not really know how I was feeling until during that second moto. I felt actually even stronger in the second race. I charged hard all the way through and there was not one point where I thought, I am getting tired. I felt really strong. I was really happy with that.
In qualifying you were fourth, which was solid, but it did not look like you were quite as aggressive as you were today. Did you change anything with the bike or yourself overnight to make it so you were more prepared today?
We changed one little thing with the bike. We changed the sprocket. That is not going to give me any more aggression or anything, but yesterday I actually was not happy with my day at all really. I enjoyed it and I had a good result, but I really felt like I could have ridden better. I did quite a lot of work over the evening and tried to find my weak points. It definitely paid off today, because I was much closer to the top and I felt a lot better in myself with my riding.
I think I put this track down, kind of like Russia, as one of your weak points. It is hard and fast. With that in mind, were you surprised just how good you were today?
Yeah. If it was the first round I would say I am really not looking forward to the hard tracks and the not-so-technical ones, but right now I am putting in some of my best results on tracks that I do not feel like I am strong with. I have worked a lot on the hard-pack over the winter. I have also done a lot of sand. I do not really feel like I have a weak surface anymore, but I am definitely stronger in the more technical conditions. Like today, I found the track just flat and fast. It was hard to really gain a lot of time on somebody. I was happy with my riding in these conditions. Again, it is a big learning curve.
It is the most standard question ever, but the fans. Did it kind of bring pressure or urge you on? Obviously you rode the British GP in 2015, but I am guessing they cheer a little harder when you are running for the podium instead of sixteenth?
Yeah, sure. I was eighteenth and I think out of the points last time I was here. I was definitely not one they were all cheering for really. This year I came in as quite a hot rider, if you would like to say. I had a lot more support than ever before. I feel like I showed what I can do in front of my home crowd. I did not necessarily get any more pressure, but I definitely had a little bit of a different feeling.
When I was on the sighting lap and you hear nothing, then when you come around it is all the horns and everything and everybody is cheering you on. It gives you a lot of motivation. It is really nice to see the support that everybody gives you. I would like to say thank you to everybody because it definitely gives us motivation.
Finally, I think you are around nine points out of third in the championship now. Obviously getting a medal would be phenomenal. If you had guessed that at the beginning of the year, it would have been out of this world. Does that enter your mind at all? Obviously, we are a long way out and anything could happen, but are you looking at that and getting a bit excited?
Yeah, of course. I actually felt like I was a little bit stronger than Olsen in the second race, but not the first race. It is a little bit up and down with us. He has been a little bit stronger than me up to now, but there is a long way to go in the season. I feel like if I can keep improving, then you never know what happens. It is a long, long way from the end. There are many races and, to be honest, it was not a goal to be third in the championship at the start of the year. Actually way, way less than that. I cannot run before I can walk, let’s say. I have to be patient, just keep staying consistent, doing what I am doing now and I will be happy.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX