Unless you keep an occasional eye on motocross, you’d have been a bit stumped when KTM announced the inclusion of Nathan Watson in their 2016 EWC line-up. Having never turned a competitive wheel in enduro, Watson has definitely jumped straight into the deep end by accepting a factory ride with KTM in enduro.
A rider who can break the top ten in MXGP with Husqvarna’s IceOne Racing team, Austria clearly see potential in the young 21-year-old. While most Grand Prix motocross riders make the switch to enduro late in their career, Watson is essentially doing it before his own really gets going. A fast learner and also having a fast friend in Jamie McCanney, KTM have just found their next big thing. He’s already impressed Antoine Meo…
“Coming to enduro racing is obviously a massive change as I’ve ridden motocross for all my life. I’ve got a really good deal with KTM for two years, which is good. I’m excited for something different, some more motivation. The way I see it, I simply enjoy riding the bike so for me it doesn’t really make any big difference if it’s motocross, enduro or whatever.”
“My racing background from enduro is fairly limited. I did a round of the Sprint Enduro Championship in the UK a few years back but nothing more than that really. My dad used to do a bit of enduro back in the day so I’ve always been close to the sport. I’m used to doing some trail riding and I even have my own trials bike back home. I enjoy this side of motorcycling, you know, just going out and riding miles off-road and having fun.”
“Before making up my mind to come to enduro I spent few days with Antoine Meo at his place down in the south of France. It was an interesting experience. As a five-time enduro champion who came from motocross Antoine does know a lot of things. I think he was kind of impressed as well from my speed, at least that’s what he said when we were riding together. He has a hell of a place and facilities down there.”
“I actually wanted to go to Meo’s place and do some testing. I was maybe expecting it to be more like a motocross track but when we got there we found out it was like a paradise for riding a bike off-road. He’s got a supercross track and miles and miles to go freeriding. He’s just a good guy who likes to help other riders. I look forward to going back there.
While riding in Antoine’s place we had him doing some laps just to get a benchmark and then me and the other guys would try to match his times. I was pretty close to him, seconds close most of the time. And in a couple of the tests I actually beat him and that was really cool. It was good mentally as well and kind of helped me make the decision.”
“Even in motocross I was always good in qualifying. I could do a very lap in any track quite early and then maybe struggle during the race. I think enduro is going to suit me to the most and hopefully I can make a career out of it. I’m only 21 years old now so I guess there’s a future there.”
“We’ve decided with KTM to race in Enduro 1 class of the world championship. I would have preferred to be on a bigger bike to be honest but I don’t really mind. I haven’t ridden a 250F for a long time, but a bike is a bike and I’m sure it won’t take so much time until I learn again how to race the 250F. On the other hand, me racing KTM’s 250 EXC-F is a good stepping stone for the future. At least I know that when I get on a bigger bike I’d be able to ride and race it the way I should. It’s a big challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”
“I don’t have a fixed plan to do any national championship right now along with the world series. KTM recommended me doing the Italian championship so I’ll probably be following that. I’ll be based in England so I might consider doing the British championship as well.”
“My focus from now on is enduro and that’s what I’m going to do. I will definitely continue doing some motocross training to be in shape. But I don’t think I’ll be in any motocross race, at least not next year. I want to keep my mind focused on enduro and I don’t really believe there’ll be much time left to race motocross from now on.”
Name: Nathan Watson
D.o.B: 4 October 1995
Comes from: Nottingham, UK
Team: KTM Enduro Factory Racing
Bike: KTM 250 EXC-F