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British Motocross Championship R1


Hitachi KTM riders Jake Nicholls and Ben Watson put on a masterclass performance for round one of the ACU British Motocross Championship at Culham MX Park yesterday with 1-1 performances across the board in the MX1 and MX2 classes. 

The typically British wet conditions in the morning qualifying certainly did not dampen the determination of 19-year-old Watson, who has hardly raced in the last 12 months due to injury, as the KTM racer put in an early fast lap to impressively go two seconds clear of the rest of the field aboard his Hitachi KTM 250 SX-F.  

In the first moto around the old-school former Grand Prix circuit Watson got a strong start and settled into second position behind Harri Kullas. Hitachi KTM teammate Josiah Natzke also got the hammer down, as he slotted into third place from his 15th gate position and chased Watson during the early part of the 25-minute plus two-lap moto.  Watson put on a faultless performance, taking a calculated pass for the lead on lap five before stretching out an 11 second advantage that the KTM-ace could maintain until the chequered flag for his first victory of the season. Kullas was second, with Watson's teammate Natzke taking a superb third position around the ever-changing Culham circuit. 

In MX2 moto two Watson gated into fourth, but had made his attack for the lead by the end of lap three, and the KTM-racer took control from then onwards. A disappointed Natzke's race was unfortunately cut short, as an issue with the rear brake on his machine forced him to retire early on in the moto. Watson rode smoothly, picking his way around the drying track with its incredibly deep ruts that caught out many riders, to take an emphatic double win for the overall victory and the red plate going into round two of the series.  

In the MX1 class Nicholls was second in the morning's wet qualifying where the top five riders were separated by just one second, despite the slippery conditions, meaning it was a likely lottery for the race. In the opening moto a hard-charging Nicholls had the lead by the end of lap one aboard his Hitachi KTM 450 SX-F, and rode a careful, controlled race from the front to take an outstanding win. 

A gate-to-flag performance in MX1 moto two sealed a successful day for Hitachi KTM with double wins in both classes, as 26-year-old Nicholls picked his way around the ultra-deep ruts and carefully chose his lines to avoid mistakes while securing the victory in dominating style and with it maximum points heading into the next round. 

The team's next outing is at the Grand Prix of Argentina next weekend.

Jake Nicholls #45

“It was a good day, and a great way to start the championship. In the first race I got in the lead fairly early on, and just rode smart. The track was quite technical and it was easy to get caught out, so it was important to manage that a little bit. The bike was working really well, and we didn't change anything between the races. I actually got a better start in the second one and got into the lead on the first lap. I just controlled it from there really, not pushing too hard because the track was tough. I really enjoyed it, and I have to say thanks to the mechanics for all of their work this week as they've been trying to get the bike ready after the flyaways. It's great to get a British Championship race under my belt, and nice to lead a race, which of course is good for the confidence to give me a little boost and I hope to take the momentum into the next GP in Argentina.” 

Ben Watson #919

 “It's been a perfect day. I had a good lap in qualifying at the start of the session and that was enough – every time I came round plus two seconds was on the board, and that really gave me confidence for the day, as I haven't done much racing since my injury. With having the pole I took the inside gate both races, but I'm not sure it was the best in the end, as it was easy to get a bit squeezed. It was all I needed though for second and fourth out the gate, as I knew where my speed was at, I took my time, and in the first one I worked out where I was faster, made the pass on Harri (Kullas) stick and put the hammer down to get a bit of a lead. In the second one the track had changed a lot, and I took a bit of time to get in a groove, but once I found my lines I took advantage of mistakes of others. Once I got into the lead I put in a few fast laps again to get a bit of a gap, then I controlled it from the front while focusing on making no mistakes. I'm going away feeling happy and confident - it's been a really good day for me and the team.” 

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