After a third and a second place in the two previous races in Lommel, Ben Watson celebrated his first ever GP win in round 15 of the FIM World Championship. Jago Geerts had a disappointing day, finishing 9th.
#919 Ben Watson. Image by CDS
Despite the rainfall the track - which some changes in sector 3 and 4 compared to the previous two race days - was in a very good condition. The Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 riders adapted well on the saturated circuit and were second (Geerts) and sixth (Watson) in time practice, which offered them a good start pick.
Both Geerts (second) and Watson (fifth) got off to a good start in the first race and were right behind championship leader Vialle, who took the holehot. The Belgian quickly threw away his chances of winning, when he jumped out of the track and went upside down just in front of the waves. Jago had to restart as 31st and dead last. The 20-year-old Belgian - who crashed one more time on lap 3 - finished on a disappointing 13th place.
Meanwhile, Watson was riding a very smart race. The Brit took his time to find a good rhythm. Once found, he started to move forwards. He went around the outside to pass Benistant and was incredibly fast on the waves to overtake Renaux. Watson, who took his first ever race win on Wednesday, smelled another 25 points and went for Vialle who led by six seconds. Ben was almost two seconds a lap faster than the Frenchman and quickly closed the gap. Watson had a good drive tripling in and passed Vialle after a superb move. The Frenchman tried to hang on, but Watson didn't allow him to come close again. Watson remained immaculate until the end and took his second race win in a space of five days.
#193 Jago Geerts. Image by @shotbybavo
On a Mission
Geerts steered his YZ250FM to a sixth holeshot of the season in race 2, while Watson - who got buried on the inside - was only 11th in the first turn and had to start a catch up race. Jago was really eager to set something straight after a disappointing first race and immediately made a nice gap. However, the Belgian lost the lead after a crash on lap 3 an dropped to fifth place.
Meanwhile, Watson was on a mission. The Brit moved up five places in the opening lap, from 11th to 6th place, and continued to push. Ben got one place for free when his teammate crashed again (Geerts fell back to 10th place) and went for Vialle. With success. The 23-year-old Watson finished fourth, more than enough for his first ever and well-deserved Grand Prix victory. Geerts ended up 7th and 9th overall.
#919 Ben Watson. Image by CDS
#193 Jago Geerts
"Ninth place, a big disappointment. I know I can win in Lommel, but I crashed four times. Four times in the same way, after losing the front. I just can't hold on to my bike. We are still looking for the right set-up, especially of the suspension. We need to fix this as soon as possible. The triple GP in Pietramurata will be important to get to know the bike better, with regard to next season. It's for sure not a mental problem. I'm far behind in the championship standings. Why should I have stress?"
#919 Ben Watson
"I will never forget this week. Third, second and finally first. My first race was incredible. I took it nice and easy in the beginning, making sure I stayed on two wheels. Later on, I went for the attack and won. There was only one thing left on my mind, one thing I hadn't achieved in my career: a GP victory. I felt tense in the second race. A lot of things were going through my mind, but I managed to win the GP. Finally I can give the team something back for all the hard work they've done for me."
"What a performance from Watson. Immaculate. I'm so happy for him. If anybody deserves a victory, it's Ben. He's such a hard worker and a grateful person. What a week: third, second and first. It's a pity Ben has to leave the team due to the age rule after this season. Concerning Geerts: he's hanging on the ropes right now. Too many crashes. I don't think it's a mental or physical issue. Anyway, we need to find a solution as quickly as possible."
1. BEN WATSON (GBr/Yam)
2. Maxime Renaux (Fra/Yam) +0:07.958
3. Tom Vialle (Fra/KTM) +0:19.273
4. Thibault Benistant (Fra/Yam) +0:27.475
5. Thomas Kjer Olsen (Den/Hus) +0: 32.999
13. JAGO GEERTS (BEL/YAM) +1:16.770
1. Roan Van De Moosdijk (Ned/Kaw)
2. Isak Gifting (Swe/Gas) +0:07.808
3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (Den/Hus) +0:09.050
4. BEN WATSON (GBR/YAM) +0:14.966
5. Maxime Renaux (Fra/Yam) +0:27.656
7. JAGO GEERTS (BEL/YAM) +0:56.281
1. BEN WATSON (GBR/YAM) 43
2. Roan Van De Moosdijk (Ned/Kaw) 40
3. Maxime Renaux (Fra/Yam) 38
4. Thomas Kjer Olsen (Den/Hus) 36
5. Tom Vialle (Fra/KTM) 35
9. JAGO GEERTS (BEL/YAM) 22
World championship classification (11/18)
1. Tom Vialle (Fra/KTM) 651
2. JAGO GEERTS (BEL/YAM) 577
3. Maxime Renaux (Fra/Yam) 476
4. Jed Beaton (Aus/Hus) 456
5. Thomas Kjer Olsen (Den/Hus) 446
6. BEN WATSON (GBR/YAM) 440
Next race: November 1, GP16 Pietramurata 1 (Ita)
Image by @shotbybravo - CDS - @yamahaofficialracing.com