Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 rider Ben Watson finished third in round 9 of the FIM World Championship in Mantova. The first podium of 2020 for the 23-year-old Brit. Teammate Jago Geerts had a tough day at the office, with too many crashes, and finished 9th.
#919 Ben Watson on the podium. Image by CDS
The FIM World Championship returned to Italy with another triple-header, this time in Mantova. Temperatures were a lot cooler (less than 20 degrees) than two weeks ago in Faenza (above 30 degrees). Also the soil was completely different: a hard pack base, with a layer of sand on top
Ben Watson, only 13th in time practice, took a great start on his YZ250FM in the first race and was right behind Boisramé and Vialle in the first turn. The Brit didn't feel comfortable in the beginning of the race (the track was heavily watered) and lost a few places. On lap 9 he was passed for P6 by teammate Geerts, who made a good recovery after a poor start. The Belgian was on the move, but fell while passing Boisramé and dropped back to P11. Watson finished 6th.
Watson got off to a flying start in the second race - his second holeshot of the season - and was in the lead for a while. #919 was passed by Beaton on lap 4, but clung to the Australian until the end, chasing his maiden race and grand prix victory. Watson was pushing a lot, but couldn't get close enough to Beaton and had to settle for second place and third overall. His third podium finish in his career, his first since the Grand Prix in Lommel last year.
Meanwhile, Geerts had to fight back after two small crashes. The first time on lap 4, when riding in third place. The Belgian dropped to P8, but recovered well and charged past Vialle, Renaux, Haarup and Ostlund. Unfortunately, Geerts suffered another fall three laps from the end had to settle for 8th.
#919 Ben Watson and #193 Jago Geerts. Image by CDS
Holeshot 2The start of the second race was almost a carbon copy of the first one for the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Team. One difference: both riders switched places. Geerts got the holeshot this time, while Watson was ninth in the first turn. Geerts got Vialle right behind him almost the entire race. No matter how hard the Frenchman tried, the Belgian didn't succumb to the pressure. Race and overall victory for Geerts, his third of the season. Watson needed a couple of laps to find the right rhythm and pace. Once found, the Brit moved up and finished fifth in the race and fourth overall. Geerts stays second in the world championship, eight points behind leader Vialle. Watson moved up one place and is now seventh in the championship.
#193 Jago Geerts
9th overall“A difficult day. I don't want to use my shoulder injury as an excuse. It only bothered me when landing. It's a shame that they watered the track too much, leaving only one line which made it very difficult to pass. In the first race I came back to sixth place after a poor start, but made a mistake when passing Boisramé. My riding was better in the second race, but I lost the front two times and had two small crashes. A pity, because Vialle was also struggling. I don't want to think about the championship right now. I'm glad my shoulder held up. I only look at the next race: in three days time, in Mantova again."
#919 Ben Watson
"Finally back on the box, after lots of fourth places. My first podium since Lommel, last year. My day didn't start well with a 13th place in time practice. I was riding too tight. Luckily my races were better. I had a good start in race 1, but dropped a few places in the beginning. I was not myself, I was lacking intensity. But sixth was still okay. Race 2 was great. I took the holeshot, my second of the season. I was in the lead for a couple of laps, but got passed by Beaton. I sat behind him the entire race, but couldn't make the pass. I had a lot of fun on the track and finally got a nice reward for all the hard work. This is a step in the right direction."
"We have mixed feelings. On the one hand, we are proud and happy with the performance of Watson. He rode two solid races, didn't make big mistakes and had two great starts. Something you really need on this kind of track. I'm really happy for Ben. I hoop this podium finish will give him an extra boost. On the other hand, Geerts had a difficult day. He had a bad start and was riding too tight in race 1. His second race was better. Unfortunately, he made two mistakes and lost some places and valuable championship points. Jago told me that his shoulder was feeling pretty good. That's the good news. We'll keep on fighting 'till the end."
1. Tom Vialle (Fra/KTM)
2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (Den/Hus) +0:06.233
3. Maxime Renaux (Fra/Yam) +0:09.380
4. Roan Van De Moosdijk (Ned/Kaw) +0:12.507
5. Mathys Boisramé (Fra/Kaw) +0:25.703
6. BEN WATSON (GBr/Yam) +0:26.477
11. JAGO GEERTS (Bel/Yam) +0:51.342
1. Jed Beaton (Aus/Hus)
2. BEN WATSON (GBr/Yam) +0:01.071
3. Conrad Mewse (GBr/KTM) +0:09.445
4. Thomas Kjer Olsen (Den/Hus) +0:18.919
5. Maxime Renaux (Fra/Yam) 0:24.786
8. JAGO GEERTS (Bel/Yam) +0:27.753
1. Thomas Kjer Olsen (Den/Hus) 40
2. Jed Beaton (Aus/Hus) 39
3. BEN WATSON (GBr/Yam) 37
4. Maxime Renaux (Fra/Yam) 36
5. Roan Van De Moosdijk (Ned/Kaw) 33
9. JAGO GEERTS (Bel/Yam) 23
World championship classification
1. Tom Vialle (Fra/KTM) 386
2. JAGO GEERTS (Bel/Yam) 356
3. Maxime Renaux (Fra/Yam) 295
4. Jed Beaton (Aus/Hus) 286
5. Roan Van De Moosdijk (Ned/Kaw) 243
7. BEN WATSON (GBr/Yam) 228
Holeshot Watson (#919) in front of Geerts (#193) Image by @shotbybravo
Next race:September 30, GP10 Mantova 2 (Ita)
Image by CDS -@shotbybravo - @yamahaofficialracing.com